UFC’s Many Stories Are Part Of Business During The Pandemic
By Cassandra Cousineau from LVSportsBiz.com
You might as well put that aside now: the UFC will never function like a traditional sports league.
UFC President Dana White claims the Las Vegas-based MMA promotion is worth around $ 10 billion.
The UFC sold over $ 4 billion in 2016 and you don’t make that type of money as a niche sport doing what everyone wants or expects of you. Take a look at the festivities and events surrounding UFC 266 this week. In these tumultuous times, the UFC is making progress that seems, well, normal.
“We’re wide open in some states,” proclaimed White, the still brash boss at an official UFC press conference this week. “There are other countries we can’t go to, but at least now people can travel to the United States. New York is a big one. The fact that we’re going into New York, and if we can get in and get this thing right and nothing’s going wrong there, we’re on our way.
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With the exception of a few groups of people wearing masks at indoor events, things look and feel like the king of all fighting leagues is getting things back on track.
The UFC hosted International Fight Week in Las Vegas again this week after postponing the event due to the 2020 COVID-19 sports shutdown. The virus has killed more than 680,000 Americans. Moved from his old home in the city center, the two-day interactive program FanExperience took place at Park MGM and instead of the T-Mobile Arena. Thousands of bloodthirsty MMA fanatics have taken to the Strip for meetups, autographs and selfies galore in the nearly 100-degree heat.
The UFC class of 2020 also had its due this week and was finally inducted Thursday night in Las Vegas. Highlighted by former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St Pierre, the ceremony at Park MGM allowed fighters to interact with the media during the red carpet festivities. One of the winners: Marc Ratner, former executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), which deals with UFC regulatory and government matters.
Ratner has been recognized as part of the Hall’s Contributors Wing. When he was hired by the UFC in 2006 after spending 14 years as executive director of the NSAC, nearly half of the states in the country still had not legalized or even agreed to regulate mixed martial arts. Ratner has led efforts to gain endorsement of the sport and the UFC itself across the United States and in many international destinations.
Ratner told LVSportsBiz as the 76-year-old wrapped up an infuriating red carpet trip: “I didn’t expect it. It still surprises me so much. Such an incredible honor.
Casting a familiar shadow over UFC, Hall of Fame and International Fighting Week was the arrest of one of the night’s inductees and former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones was arrested at 5:45 a.m. on the Strip and charged with domestic violence and injuring or tampering with a vehicle, a felony. He was held at the Clark County Detention Center on $ 8,000 bond.
It was not his first, second or even third serious arrest. At 34, Jones should be done with this.
“Is this really shocking anymore?” Asked White in a down-to-earth tome. “It really isn’t. It doesn’t get shocking. It’s almost like ‘uh oh he’s in Vegas again, what’s going to happen today?’ You want to hope. You want to hope the guy is doing better, and he isn’t. He proves every time he comes to this city that he cannot manage the place ”
White and Jones have a long history of disappointment and mutual reinforcement. In December 2018, Jones was denied a license to fight in Nevada after a sample taken by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA, which administers the UFC’s drug testing program) was reported to contain a metabolite of a steroid known as Turinabol. . It was the second time in two years that this had happened.
Instead of continuing with the card without Jones, White decided to move the set of UFC 232 event from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on six days notice.
“Obviously we’ll see how it goes legally for him and where it ends up going. It’s hard to get this guy to Las Vegas for any reason. This city is not good for Jon Jones, ”White said.
And here we are again. It’s like it’s not even shocking anymore. When we bring him here, it’s almost normal. You can’t even take him to Las Vegas for less than 12 hours to induct him into the Hall of Fame; it’s rough. The guy has a lot of demons. A lot. – Dan White on Jon Jones
Las Vegas enjoyed full capacity sporting events and the Raiders quick start these last weeks. UFC’s $ 69.99- $ 89.99 PPV event is expected to sell in order of 16,000 seats in T-Mobile Arena for UFC 266. Its two title fights will be a button over the week of press conferences and fan-friendly events.
The most intriguing fight on the map lasts 17 years.
Robbie Lawler and Nick Diaz aren’t headlining Saturday’s UFC 266. They’re not even headlining. That designation belongs to Valentina Shevchenko, who is looking to extend her flyweight dominance against challenger Lauren Murphy. But, bet your last Las Vegas chips that everyone will be glued to everything Diaz-related. The fan favorite is making his return to the Octagon after a nearly seven-year absence from the competition.
As for the main featherweight event, Brian Ortega is trying to keep his promise to become champion for the second time and topple formidable belt holder Alexander Volkanovski.
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