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How UFC Boxing could help Al Haymon & Fox Sports support Premier Boxing Champions

By Zach Arnold | October 29, 2017

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I agree with Bob Arum’s suspicions that Dana White really, really wants to get into promoting boxing matches. You wouldn’t bother floating UFC Boxing as a weather vane unless there was some internal interest.

There are obvious questions about how UFC Boxing would work. With questions comes skepticism.

On Friday, I wrote that UFC Boxing would be a great way for Ari Emanuel to keep Dana White with UFC while throwing him a bone that he has always wanted: to promote boxing matches. To be the savior of boxing from those he calls greedy bastards stealing profits. The ego boost would be an instant supercharge.

After Friday’s article, we brainstormed with other writers some of the possible motives behind the trial balloon of UFC Boxing. If UFC Boxing was to become a reality, how would it work and who would benefit?

First motive – a hedge against the Ali Act

Momentum is picking up in Congress to amend the Ali Act for MMA. Trump will follow what his business friends Ari Emanuel & Dana White tell him to do. If they show the white flag or give the green light, Trump will sign the measure. So far, Congressional lobbying shows UFC is fighting the modification of the Ali Act.

Politically speaking, there is a scenario where Congress could vote to amend the Ali Act for MMA. Trump vetoes the amendment and 2/3rds of Congress overrides the veto. Not an unimaginable scenario. At that point, UFC has to figure out what to do next in their business plan.

Part of that new business plan could very well include offering fighters multi-sport UFC contracts. Like boxing and MMA. There’s Bellator MMA and Bellator Kickboxing. UFC can have their MMA operation and UFC Boxing. I agree that it will cost UFC more money to keep fighters happy in a boxing ring but there are ways to finance it.

In much the same way that the NFL has been a giant data-mining experiment for Amazon, Conor McGregor’s fight with Floyd Mayweather was a A/B testing experiment for UFC management. The fight opened their eyes to new business options.

Second motive – UFC Boxing as a spinoff for Fox or Al Haymon partnership

The temperature is heating up in the Kansas shareholder derivative lawsuit against the hedge fund that has financed Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. Depositions begin in November.

What happens when the money runs dry for PBC?

Al Haymon is going to need Fox Sports as a television partner to help PBC continue. Fox Sports and UFC need each other. Haymon and Dana White worked together on the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather negotiations. The relationships speak for themselves. There’s too much potential common ground not to ignore regarding Haymon, PBC, his stable of fighters, and the prospects of UFC Boxing. Cross-marketing boxing and MMA together makes some sense. Ari Emanuel hopes it makes cents, too.

Fox Sports wants PBC alive for content. Haymon wants PBC alive to give his stable of fighters some bookings. UFC would need a business partner to work with to make UFC Boxing a reality. And if PBC dies, Fox would be more than happy to pick up UFC Boxing as content for their cable and broadcast networks. Another chip in Ari Emanuel’s portfolio to raise the rights fees from Fox.

Bottom line: Do not dismiss the UFC Boxing trial balloon out of hand. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If Dana White is as bored with UFC’s current MMA matchmaking as the fans are, there’s good reason to keep him motivated. Going to battle with Bob Arum would get Dana White pumped up and Arum would relish the opportunity to make the battle a proxy war against Trump.

Topics: Boxing, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

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