The rumors and speculation continue to run rampant on what Dana White’s “mind-blowing” announcement could be since he revealed to ESPN The Mag that his news would be “an indicator of where this business is going over the next five years.” Dana has disappointed in the past when he’s made such proclamations, but the feeling in the air is different this time.
The rumors have run the gamut from Chuck Liddell fighting Anderson Silva to Floyd Mayweather signing with the UFC. The former would be a huge announcement, but not big enough to live up to Dana’s hype. The latter just seems too far-fetched and completely goes against any sort of logical reasoning.
The general consensus is that either the UFC landed a network deal or that Zuffa sold the UFC. MMARated.com believes the answer could be both with FOX being the suitor.
Ah yes, the big (and most logical) one which comes to us from a reliable source. We’ve heard the UFC on FOX rumors for quite some time and we’ve also heard the rumors that the promotion was on sale. We also know that the UFC was not willing to work with a network unless they had full production control. However, what if a network bought them for a hefty price? Then, all of a sudden, that issue is, well, an non-issue. The bottom line is that this is the kind of announcement you rent a secret location for.
MMA Rated makes some very key points here.
The rumors that Zuffa was considering selling the UFC have been going on for quite some time now, and was even validated when Dana White stated in an interview that Zuffa would sell for the right price.
Ever since it was reported that a deal with CBS fell through with the UFC and EliteXC was announced as inking a deal with them, FOX has been the most heavily rumored network that the UFC was in talks with.
For a long time, it was believed that the UFC lost the CBS deal over the issue of production control. However, Sam Caplan stated in a recent article on Five Oz. that the CBS deal in fact fell through because the CBS wanted an ownership stake in the UFC, and not over production control. Perhaps, CBS just didn’t offer the right price and terms, and FOX did.
If this in indeed the case, it definitely makes perfect business sense. With the soaring popularity of mixed martial arts has come the competition, something the UFC has not had to worry about since their quick turnaround into profitability after the TUF 1 Finale. Whether they admit or not, they know EliteXC success on CBS and Affliction landing Donald Trump both present a threat to them and its only going to get worse.
Presently, the UFC has the vast majority of the market share. But with their success comes new obstacles, such as the aforementioned competition, less control over their fighters, increasing pay rates, potential adherence to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000 and Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2007 which would essentially nullify their standard contract, and the list goes on and on.
This may be the most dominant the UFC will ever be, and believe me, the Fertittas know that. So if they’re going to sell, now truly is the perfect time to do it while they are on top. We saw PRIDE fall from elite promotion to nothing practically overnight. There are no guarantees that the same couldn’t happen to the UFC.
If I’m putting money on any of these rumors, this would be it. It makes the most sense and it fits the description.
Thursday can’t come soon enough.
[UPDATE 6/9/2008 11:25PM] – I ran across some interesting comments over at MMAPayout.com that strengthens the rumor that the UFC has been sold. Adam Swift is usually on point, so I am inclined to believe this is the case.
Inside the industry, the guessing game has advanced past *whether* the UFC’s sale is Dana’s big announcement and onto *who* such a sale might involve. Odds on favorites include FOX, Golden Boy, and WWE (NOTE: For the conspiracy theorist in all of us, WWE has an ambiguous press conference of its own scheduled for Thursday).
Help us all if it’s the WWE.