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Dana’s Announcement: Lorenzo Fertitta To Work Full Time With The UFC (Update)

Dana White, Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo FertittaWe warned you yesterday that you may find Dana’s “mind-blowing” announcement a disappointment. Now that it’s been revealed, chances are you probably will. Turns out the big news had nothing to do with the sale of the company, a network deal or New York regulation. It had to do with the majority owners, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. The Fertittas had been running Station Casinos in Las Vegas together, however that will change now as Lorenzo has resigned from position with Station Casinos, and will shift his full-time efforts to running the UFC alongside Dana White.

Lorenzo Fertitta, the president of one of the most successful casino chains in Las Vegas, resigned his position with Station Casinos on Wednesday to work full-time with the UFC.

Fertitta and his older brother, Frank III, are the primary owners of the UFC. But until now Lorenzo Fertitta has devoted more than three-quarters of his time to running the family business as president of the burgeoning casino company.

Fertitta insisted the move was no indictment of White, his long-time friend and next-door neighbor, but rather one which is desperately needed because of the significant growth the company is undergoing.

“The problem, if there is a problem, is that the business has gotten so successful, it’s requiring more time, focus and attention,” Fertitta said. “Station Casinos is a business my family and I have built and now it’s a multi-billion dollar company. But the reality is, the UFC has gone through so much growth in the last eight years, my brother and I felt we’d be better in divide and conquer mode. He’ll stay at Station Casinos and take care of that and I’ll come over here and work on the issues involving the UFC.”

Frank Fertitta III will remain as chief executive officer of Station Casinos, though he’ll retain his ownership stake in the UFC. Lorenzo Fertitta, meanwhile, will work to develop the international business for an organization which once struggled to gain a foothold in the U.S.

UFC president Dana White comments on the change.

White said he understands that some may see Fertitta’s move as a sign of the owners’ unhappiness with him or as an indication that the company is in peril.

“If they think that, beautiful, because it’s better for us. There just isn’t enough time in the day for me to do everything that needs to be done. Lorenzo’s wife said to me the other day, ‘The two of you together is scary.’ I think what we’re going to be able to do now is amazing.

“I think the potential for the UFC within the next five years globally is that it is going to be bigger than the NFL, bigger than Major League Baseball. As huge as the NFL is here, they don’t give a (expletive) about the NFL in Europe. But fighting transcends continents. Everybody on every continent understands a fight.”

“These people who are working for us, maybe some of them wonder if they did the right thing coming to a company that promotes mixed martial arts fights,”

“Everyone has doubts, right? Well, when you see Lorenzo Fertitta, a guy who was the No. 2-highest paid casino executive in Las Vegas, quit that job to come to work full-time for the UFC, that will be pretty strong evidence that they’ve made the correct move. The Internet may not consider this huge news, but what the people on the Internet think is huge and what I think is huge are two different things. But you know what? I think I have a pretty good track record. I think this is maybe the biggest day in UFC history. I’m so excited, I can’t begin to explain it to you. This is an historic day for me and this company.”

There you have it. So was this the original announcement Dana spoke about in the ESPN The Magazine interview or was it something else that didn’t pan out, like NY regulation? Looking back at White’s comments that started this whole thing, neither really fits the bill.

There’s something no one else has heard. You have no idea some of the stuff that we have planned. I’m going to make an announcement next week that is going to blow people’s minds. That deal is done, but my employees don’t even know yet. I’m renting out a place next Thursday and I’m going to tell them. Then we’ll make the announcement later that day. It’s an indicator of where this business is going over the next five years.

I fail to see where this blows anyone’s mind besides Dana White’s. Lorenzo owns 45% of the UFC, so for him to become more involved doesn’t strike me as head turning. Maybe its just one of those things where you have to be there.

Or maybe it was just Dana being Dana all along.

[UPDATE 6/19/2008 1:24AM ET]Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Lorenzo Fertitta will assume the role of chairman and chief executive officer of the UFC.

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