Okay, so people have had some time to digest the news that Lorenzo Fertitta is becoming a co-head of the UFC. I dunno if everyone is appreciating the importance of having a second man running ship, but it seems like most bloggers are in agreement: this can only mean good things for the sport:
Under Dana White’s leadership the company has reached heights that could have scarcely been imagined by most when the Fertittas bought the company. However, it has became increasingly clear that the job of taking the company to the next level was simply overwhelming White.
Whether it was too much work, too little ability, or a combination of the two, it was clear that something would have to change if the company was going to reach the next level. Simply put: White could not, and perhaps no mere mortal could, transform the UFC into a mainstream, international sports and entertainment brand on his own.
For months there were rumors that the Zuffa would sell the UFC. They were doing great numbers, but their top draws were leaving or retiring, and the future was uncertain. Today’s announcement signals that they are in it for the long haul, and that is a great thing for fight fans. Nothing scared me more than the possibility of a media company running the UFC. This is a unique business, it takes intricate knowledge of the fight business to make it work, and the people at Zuffa are among the few that can actually do it.
White’s genuine business style was a refreshing change from boxing promoters and it helped attract new fans to the sport. However, what you see with White is often what you really get. There are times when his business acumen might rub people the wrong way (i.e. HBO) and when it comes to business development, you often need a soft touch when trying to woo potential partners. It just so happens that the phrase “soft touch” isn’t in White’s vocabulary.