There’s been speculation ever since the UFC sold a 10% chunk of the company to the government of Abu Dhabi that the company might be in some sort of long term financial trouble. Dana White has been claiming that the sale happened spontaneously as the UFC was working to set up UFC 112 in the country. But Bloody Elbow has called bullshit on the UFC, pointing out a quote from Renzo Gracie that states they were actively looking for investors:
“I probably had more to do with (the UFC-Flash partnership) than people will probably ever realize. When I found out they were looking for investors, I was in Singapore and I brought back this package they were sending out to investors. I brought a copy of that back to the Sheikh and he was very interested because he loves fighting.
“After that, they got in touch through a lawyer and [UFC president] Dana [White] and [UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta], came over and they got a deal done.”
You can practically hear the gleeful cackles of the Anti-Dana brigade at the fact that someone saw fit to invest an estimated $100 million into Dana’s company. Because hey, what kind of capitalistic enterprise lowers itself to seeking capital to expand into new markets with? I know. I don’t get it either. If you think I’m off base here, imagine the articles that would be coming out of Bloody Elbow if Strikeforce had made the same deal and then blazed into the Middle fucking East … it would mark the return of superstar promoter Scott Coker and cement the future of his promotion!
But when Zuffa is involved, it just hurts pay per view sales and ‘confirms the old rumors that Zuffa needed some outside cash to maintain its debt payment schedule and continue investing in long-term growth’ (Bloody Elbow’s words). This, despite the fact that the financial analysts at Moody’s (whom I dare presume are more familiar with Zuffa’s financial situation than any of us bloggers) say ‘Zuffa’s income, which comes largely from events and pay-per-view receipts, should be sufficient to make its debt payments.’ I’m going to go with Moody’s here.
So a 10% investment, instant access to an entirely untapped market, good will in the region, a fucking stadium getting built for you – these are apparently not worth a lowered PPV rate for one card and the possibility of inclement weather (this is honestly one of the strangest articles I’ve ever read). Look, if all the UFC was concerned with was making money, Kimbo-Lesnar II would be somewhere between James Toney-Herschel Walker, Butterbean-Velasquez and Pudzianowski-Carwin in upcoming headliners, and they never would’ve raised $6 million for the troops at the Fort Bragg card. Perhaps brand saturation, generating good will and (gasp) not focusing on profits are – on occasion – the way to go. And if the now-confirmed Middle East TUF is right on the heels of the fresh-of-the-griddle Afghanistan event (which, again, were the focus solely on revenue, would never happen), who the FUCK is going to look back on this as Zuffa scrounging around for investors? I’d tell you, but I think you Jackals have a few names in mind.