T Nation

UFC in Talks to Sell Organizaton

Just heard that Zuffa is in advanced talks to sell the UFC. There are four potential bidders one being a Chinese businessman worth 34 billion. Talk is they are asking somewhere between 3.5 and 4 billion dollars.

Does anyone now think that they fighters are not under paid?

They’ve been underpaid for years! Don’t think selling the company is likely to change that though (unless they get lucky enough to get purchased by someone/some company that values paying its employees top dollar for their services) from what I’ve seen of venture capital endeavors.

Bellator is getting bigger though and their competition for market share and fighters may put pressure on them to eventually raise their pay rates. They have the brand recognition though, so maybe not.

Yep. UFC fighters make nothing compared to the big dogs in that industry.

I believe that organization’s sale to a venture capital firm will be a terrific mistake. But hey, I’m a boxing fan, so fuck’em.

I agree in that the sale will not necessarily raise fighters pay. My point was to demonstrate by posting the potential value of the company that for many years Dana White and company underpaid fighters. They obviously built a huge company on the sweat and blood of many fighters for several years. Underpaying them while building a world wide brand and sticking the after tax profits in their bulging pockets. If they can live with themselves fine. But even an extra 10-k to all of the fighters would have meant a big difference in their lives and not really effected the financial outcome of the UFC in any major way. But the Fertitta brothers fronted by their President and10% owner Dana White chose the low road. The road that allowed them to pick up every single dime that they could.

As for their competition, I wish Bellator the best of luck in growing large enough to give the UFC some real competition. Good things happen for consumers and fighters if there is serious competition. As consumers of MMA fighting we want to make sure that we are getting the best possible price when purchasing PPV. Instead of the costs rising as they have consistently under Zuffa, if Bellator becomes a power prices will begin to head downward with each company vying for the dollars of the MMA fans. Also should Bellator become a real challenge fighter pay will go up as the two large companies bid for the best fighters to participate in their organization instead of the only one major player.

The UFC has had it too good for too long and I think they can see the writing on the wall and that is why they are looking for an exit strategy. Should a large concern with deep pockets purchase the UFC (and who else could with a price tag that high) Dana White will probably stay on at least in the short term, but new management would probably not be far away. And none of this means that the new company (should there even be one) will pay the fighters more. But, the fact that Zuffa wants out does mean that something is in the air. Perhaps something that we do not know as mere fans/participants of the sport. But anything that moves Zuffa out of MMA should only be viewed as positive for both fans and fighters.

(As a side note I had a furious debate with someone on this site about the value of the UFC about 5 or 6 years ago. At the time I stated that the UFC was worth somewhere around 2 billion. The other poster refused to buy it and as some debates go unleashed a tirade of insults on me. The other poster knows who he is and is still around. At this point I’m sure he can see how silly he was.)

If they were going to sell now would be the time to do it. Mainstream recognition of MMA is growing, which has average PPV numbers up, not to mention that selling would mean the current UFC administration wouldn’t have to deal with a fighter’s union. They also seem to be throwing more money than ever into promotion. Now MMA being legal in New York certainly makes things more attractive.

I’m just curious whether or not new ownership would nullify the Reebok deal.

Once a deal is signed with an organization simply because that organization is sold does not nullify a deal made by the previous owners.

By the way that is one more way that the UFC has used their fighters as tools to rake in more money. As you are aware, prior to the Reebok deal fighters could sell space on their fight shorts to anyone who may have wanted to advertise a business interest. But, getting a cut of that was not enough for Dana White and company. As usual they wanted the whole enchilada. They literally have no regard for the very people that have made them into a multi-billion dollar company.

I agree with your second point; the Reebok deal obviously nets them more money than taking a percentage of individual fighter sponsorships did.

However, as far as throwing out the deal goes it would all depend on the language of the contract (if I’m not mistaken). I think it would make a difference whether Reebok had the deal with the UFC or with Zuffa. If the potential new owner decided not to continue the deal there would probably be some legal loopholes that would make the inclination possible (new name, ownership, etc). Obviously it’s all speculation, but it’s something to take into consideration.