UFC's White: We deliver - and broadcasters are queuing up
Dana White, president of UFC, has hit out at critics who have cast doubt on the future of the series and suggested that Endeavor, the combined Hollywood talent agency and sports and entertainment company formerly known as WME-IMG, overpaid for the mixed martial arts promoter, when it acquired it for as much as $4.2 billion in 2016.
In an interview with ESPN, he said: “WME-IMG Endeavor bought us for $4 billion, and obviously they need to hit certain numbers for the banks. Right now, I’m spending another $1 million [at UFC’s Las Vegas headquarters] on another wing I want. That’s how bad of a year we’re having.
“Ari Emanuel [Endeavor’s chief executive] wants to buy the building next door and build more s--t. We’re still growing.
“I think the sale has everything to do with it [the criticism]. Everybody is looking at that $4-billion sale and asking, ‘Did they deliver?’
“F--k yeah, we delivered. We deliver every single year. And still, every year, if you listen to the media, we’re f--ked.”
UFC and Endeavor are reported to be seeking a new US TV rights deal worth between $250 million and $300 million a year, a figure that compares with the figure approaching $150 million a year that Fox, the national TV network, pays under the existing seven-year deal which expires this year.
Fox’s exclusive negotiating window to renew the deal expired in October, with the broadcaster only prepared to offer $200 million a year.
Referring to Walt Disney’s recently-announced, mammoth, $66.1-billion deal to acquire key parts of 21st Century Fox, the international television and film company headed up by chairman Rupert Murdoch, White said: “It’s getting more interesting by the minute. ESPN buys Fox Sports [regional sports networks], which the UFC is perfect for. And you look at Fox, they have a load of cash from the [sale to Disney]. You’ve got powerhouses like Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube.
“Who can offer you a better deal than me in combat sports?... Who can offer a better deal than me? The answer is nobody. This is what we do. Keep doubting us.”