They bought the UFC for an exorbitant sum, then promptly fired much of the staff and then trimmed the fighter roster. So… what the heck are WME-IMG – the UFC’s new owners – doing?
Since they haven’t made the press privy to their plans, we can only speculate. But MMAFighting scribe Marc Ramondi has written an article digging into this very topic, and he reminds us that if WME-IMG are pursuing the big “spectacle” fights over all else, well, that isn’t so strange after all.
Here’s a sample, but definitely read the rest.
You can certainly make the argument that WME-IMG is interested in that short-term payoff because of the revenue goals it must meet, but that doesn’t mean the Fertittas would not have rolled that same dice years ago when the long-term future of the UFC was uncertain if this kind of opportunity presented itself.
There is a case that can be made that the UFC has sustained itself over the years because the Fertittas and White made decisions that would pay dividends in the future and didn’t take as many short-term risks. But you also cannot say that their matchmaking was strictly based on merit and WME-IMG is now going full WWE. That just wouldn’t be the case.
The truth is, we just don’t know enough about WME-IMG and its plans — present and future — for the UFC. Emanuel and fellow co-CEO Patrick Whitesell have said very little publicly about any vision. Some things, like the layoff of dozens of employees and willingness to let talented, young fighters leave, have been concerning. If WME-IMG is playing the long game and has a deeper vision, it certainly has not been made apparent to us yet.