Sorry, not sorry. MMA media is beating a dead horse at this point when talking about the UFC canceling fights due to COVID-19. We get it, the disease is horrible (it is), but you’re beating a dead horse when it comes to the topic.
I get it, it’ll get you clicks (that’s even the aim of this article). But, it’s to the point to where it’s unoriginal now and talking about it day in and day out is really obnoxious and comes off as virtue signaling. We get it, you’re a good person.
I completely understand that it’s hard to find a story to write for the website you’re for. Clicks pay the bills. But other people are trying to pay bills as well.
UFC Is Doing What They Can
So the UFC is doing everything they can to please both parties. On one hand, fans know the coronavirus is a serious problem. Risk of death is pretty high. Everyone should be worried about it. And they are.
The UFC is facing backlash after going on with UFC Brasilia going on “without concern for the virus.” What people fail to realize is that these fighters are not part of a union (that’s a whole different issue). There have not been union dues paid for years, stockpiling in an account. In order for the UFC to pay fighters, there needs to be money from somewhere.
The issue is the $4 billion sale of the UFC. If this were the Zuffa era, there would be money to be paid. But now WME, the new owners of the UFC, are in charge and in debt. $4 billion in debt. Cash is likely not abundant for WME at the moment.
While I know that $4 billion is the original sales price and it’s likely a good chunk lower now, WME is still massively in debt right now.
So they need cash flow, right? Then the fighters can get paid. Where’s that going to come from if they’re supposed to cancel fights? ESPN isn’t going to pay them for a card that didn’t stream. Then last weekend, they likely operated at a loss at UFC Brasilia. If not, it was severely less than normal. There was no crowd and no gate means no money coming in.
Between a rock and a hard place
So now the UFC is between a rock and a hard place. The fighters want to fight because they know they need to pay bills. The UFC wants to remain the best promotion in the world and keep the best fighters coming in. They can’t pay when they don’t fight because they likely don’t have much liquidity. So they have to cancel as few events as possible and affect as few fighters as they can.
UFC 249, the next scheduled event, is one of the most highly anticipated fights of all time. If the UFC goes through with that fight, the money at the gate will be amongst the highest it’s ever seen, the pay per view sales will be one of the highest it’s ever seen, and merchandise will be one of the highest it’s ever seen. They will have an excess amount of cash and while they likely won’t be able to pay all the fighters of scheduled events, they will be able to help them out if they need it.
So please, before you go pointing fingers at Dana White for being greedy and wanting fighters to fight, consider a few things. It is probably not Dana White keeping the fights going, it’s more likely WME, Dana White’s bosses. Paying fighters is most likely not financially feasible as you want it to be. Try to put yourself in their shoes, but think a little deeper than the surface at first.
Thanks for reading.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.