With all the hoopla surrounding Affliction “Trilogy” and who’s going to fight Fedor this piece on Lorenzo Fertitta and the UFC’s global expansion damn near slipped through the cracks.
Most of were pretty disappointed last year that Dana’s “mind-blowing” announcement was Lorenzo joining the organization full-time. After all, he already owns almost half of the company. Yet, Dana stood his ground and said no one had any idea quite how significant of a move it actually was. Well, when you take a look at everything Lorenzo’s accomplished in a few paragraphs, it starts to look like Dana wasn’t exaggerating this time.
Yet, since Fertitta’s first full day as the UFC’s chief executive officer, he has landed television deals in China, Mexico, France and Germany; is on the verge of bringing a fight card in February to Sydney, Australia; helped settle what could have turned into a nasty dispute between the company and popular heavyweight contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic; organized the first UFC Fan Expo and played key roles in the development of a video game and fighter action figures.
The UFC has long coveted Mexico as a market because of its vast number of fight fans. Fertitta worked out a deal with Televisa, the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world and UFC 100 was shown live for free and drew 25 million viewers.
In addition, Fertitta believes he’s made significant inroads toward a television deal in the Middle East. A live event in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates seems more and more likely.
“Internationally, things have progressed much faster than I expected and I’ve said for a long time that’s a huge initiative for us,” White said. “But I just couldn’t give it the time it really needed before Lorenzo got here. We’re doing 12-13 pay-per-views a year. We do two seasons of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ a year and all those cards on Spike. There’s no way I could do all that and handle re-signing fighters and putting out the fires that flare up every day and then figure this out internationally. Physically, it was just impossible.
When you put it that way, then yeah, maybe we underestimated the impact of the announcement just a bit.
Moving on, global domination wasn’t the only newsworthy item in the story. Remember when Dana said he would jump off Mandalay Bay if UFC 100 broke 1.5 million pay-per-view buys? Well, according to Lorenzo, he just might.
While the UFC has a company policy of not disclosing exact pay-per-view figures, the sales for UFC 100 were in excess of 1.5 million, making it one of the most-watched PPV events in history.
Fertitta declined to give a sales figure, but he did say, “I think Dana is going to be doing a base jump at Mandalay Bay.”
And the news may only get better for the UFC. Bloody Elbow is reporting that John Skipper, Executive Vice President at ESPN in charge of content, attended his first UFC event at UFC 100 as a guest to Dana. It may turn out to mean nothing at all, but Michael Rome is speculating it may have to do with rumors that the UFC is close to signing a network television deal, which in this instance would be ABC whose sports programming is now deferred to ESPN. Of course, talk of the UFC on network TV has popped up almost as often as talk of the UFC signing Fedor in the past couple years, so it’s really one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. But you know, if we’re going to speculate, we might as well do it right and combine the two. That’s the trend this week, right? Making stuff up. Rumor alert: Fedor vs. Lesnar to headline UFC’s first live network television event on ABC! Now that would be something, wouldn’t it?