Rumors of a UFC sale continue to swirl and swirl — the word is the deal is done and simply waiting to be announced. Not that the UFC will admit that. They went so far as to threaten legal action against anyone in the company leaking these “misrepresentation of facts,” just another example of the iron fist the UFC sometimes wields when they deem it necessary.
Other examples of that: banning MMA reporter Ariel Helwani from events for scooping them on fight announcements, and of course pulling Conor McGregor off UFC 200 after he balked at leaving training for a multi-city promotional tour. If details of the agreement between UFC parent company Zuffa and companies including WME-IMG and the Dalian Wanda Group are true, current UFC president Dana White will stick around for a couple of years after the sale to help with the transition … and keep everyone in check. Which is good, because it sounds like Conor McGregor is being Conor McGregor again.
Via the Sunday Business Post:
John Kavanagh, the coach of Irish mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor, has said he expects that the sport’s breakout athlete would ask for a stake in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) if it was sold.
With rumours circulating of a $4.2 billion UFC sale, Kavanagh raised the prospect of McGregor seeking equity from any new owner.
“Conor will have thought of this and I am sure, when he is sitting down with his new overlords, he will have that conversation,” Kavanagh said.
Even owning a few percentage points of equity in the UFC would be massive for McGregor, who is the first MMA fighter to ever crack into the Forbes Top 100 Paid Athletes List. With the company’s price tag rumored to be $4.2 billion, a tiny 2% slice of equity would be worth $84 million. Currently ownership in the company is divided between Lorenzo Fertitta (40.5%), Frank Fertitta (40.5%), Dana White (9%) and Flash Entertainment (10%), a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi government.
Could Conor force a few percentage points out of the new owners? Not likely while Dana White is around … and any new owner is likely to keep White in place as UFC president, at least in the short term. White called McGregor’s bluff during their UFC 200 spat and came out on top. With Dana at the helm, the UFC has been pretty careful to limit even the pay per view percentages they offer headlining fighters and champions. Letting Conor demand equity would blow their carefully controlled pay structure to bits.
But Conor McGregor has roughly five more fights on his UFC contract, and White could be gone by the time that deal is up for renewal in around two years. With a massive fight against Floyd Mayweather always waiting outside the UFC for him, McGregor could generate the leverage needed to pry a few percentage points out of some less stubborn owners … especially if he continues to break pay per view records.
It’s just another sign that the MMA world is getting more interesting by the day. By the end of the summer, the entire landscape could be completely different. How it will look is anyone’s guess. Until the UFC is ready to admit a deal is done, we can only speculate.