Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White. Photo property of the UFC.
Well the big announcement wasn’t exactly “mind-blowing” but it may turn out to be a little bigger than people think, over time that is.
In an exclusive interview with Kevin Iole, UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta has revealed that he has resigned as President of Las Vegas-based Station Casinos in order to focus his efforts full-time on the promotion. His brother, Frank, will retain his stake in the UFC but will now head their casino empire on his own.
“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 in the article. “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.”
Lorenzo will now be working side-by-side with Dana White. His main job will be to oversee international expansion. Among the countries name-dropped by Lorenzo as possible spots to hold an event were Russia, India, Dubai, Brazil, China, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan.
Other plans include landing more big-name sponsors, particularly in countries other than the United States, and working on merchandising and ancillary rights, which is huge because it will finally help solve one of the sport’s biggest problems in the form of a lack of proper compensation for the fighters’ usage of their own images.
“Our top guys now are making millions. Others are making hundreds of thousands,” White said. “But when we get this thing globally where I know we can, with the merchandising and all the ancillary stuff, the fighters are going to be paid when they’re sitting on their couch.”
Like always, one has to look on the other side of the spectrum. Throwing the wasted hype White originally generated with this announcement aside, he also noted that some fans and critics may feel that either the UFC is having problems or that White himself is slacking on his job.
It’s the exact thing that Michael Rome takes a look at here. It’s no secret that the UFC’s expansion into Europe hasn’t worked out like planned so far. Tack on the botched PRIDE acquistion and the departures of Randy Couture, Andrei Arlovski, and Tim Sylvia in recent months and one could actually see Rome’s point easily.
So the big announcement wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. I think we saw it coming and it’s partially are own fault because of the rampant speculation. (Floyd Mayweather to the UFC, yeah right…) In my opinion, Dana likely actually had something huge but it just ended up falling apart at the last minute. But if Lorenzo’s added involvement means that their projected plans go forward, this day could end up being more historic than we think.