Dana White has reacted in typically blusterous fashion to rumours that WME-IMG are disappointed in the rate at which they are recouping the massive sum which they paid to acquire the UFC in 2016.
WME-IMG, a Hollywood talent agency led in part by Ari Emmanuel, paid a fee reported to be in the region of $4.2 billion to buy the UFC from the Fertitta brothers, as well as other more minor shareholders, in the summer of 2016. Following the sale, which is among the largest in sports franchise history, Dana White promised that “the sport is going to the next level”.
However, with signature stars like Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar not appearing in the octagon in 2017, the company has faced accusations that they can’t possibly have been as profitable as before. McGregor is due to return to the cage in 2018, but with Rousey and Lesnar almost certain to never compete under the UFC banner again, White and the UFC face a task of creating a new generation of stars capable of filling the gloves of some of their more reputable contemporaries.
However, as Dana White told ESPN (and as reported by MMAFighting), things are all flowing smoothly inside UFC HQ.
“WME-IMG Endeavor bought us for $4 billion, and obviously they need to hit certain numbers for the banks,” White said. “Right now, I’m spending another $1 million (at UFC’s Las Vegas headquarters) on another wing I want. That’s how bad of a year we’re having.
“Ari Emanuel wants to buy the building next door and build more s**t. We’re still growing. I think the (2016) sale has everything to do with it,” White said of the speculation. “Everybody is looking at that $4 billion sale and asking, ‘Did they deliver?’”
“F**k yeah, we delivered. We deliver every single year. And still, every year, if you listen to the media, we’re f**ked.”
White contends that the massive Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather boxing match last year was a huge boost to the UFC’s coffers.
“Who cares if it was a boxing match?” White said. “Do you think we knew Floyd Mayweather was going to fight Conor McGregor in 2017? F**k no. We still had our year lined out, a budget and everything else.
”This is the fight business. You have no f**king idea what’s going to happen. If that fight hadn’t happened, Conor would have fought twice in the UFC and who knows who he would have fought or the fights it would have set up. This s**t doesn’t just happen. We create this s**t.
Who cares if it was a boxing match?” White said. “Do you think we knew Floyd Mayweather was going to fight Conor McGregor in 2017? F**k no. We still had our year lined out, a budget and everything else.
”This is the fight business. You have no f**king idea what’s going to happen. If that fight hadn’t happened, Conor would have fought twice in the UFC and who knows who he would have fought or the fights it would have set up. This s**t doesn’t just happen. We create this s**t.”
The UFC is hoping for another cash injection once they begin negotiating bids for television rights, once their current deal with Fox Sports reaches its conclusion.
“It’s getting more interesting by the minute,” White said of the UFC’s options. “ESPN buys Fox Sports’ (regional sports networks), which the UFC is perfect for. And you look at FOX, they have a load of cash from the (sale to Disney). You’ve got powerhouses like Amazon, Netflix and YouTube.”
“Whoever an athlete is, I don’t care who it is, I want to fly you to Las Vegas and we’re going to meet,” White said. “I’m going to walk you through this new facility, show you the gym, the trainers, all the amenities. Free supplements, physical therapy, we’ll cook your food exactly how you like it three times per day. You’ll get health insurance.
“Who can offer you a better deal than me in combat sports? F**k boxing, MMA, whatever it is. Who can offer a better deal than me? The answer is nobody. This is what we do. Keep doubting us.”