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Dana White confirms UFC Boxing is coming, Al Haymon trial balloon officially floated

By Zach Arnold | November 8, 2017

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UFC Boxing is coming, right in the nick of the time as UFC is looking for a new television platform agreement.

With momentum building in Congress to amend the Ali Act to cover MMA, UFC has no choice but to diversify their content portfolio. It also gives Dana White a natural parachute to phase out of MMA duties when he wants to execute an exit strategy.

We’ve talked about this over the last 30 days on Fight Opinion and our readers caught onto what was coming in a hurry. Bob Arum saw this coming first. UFC reportedly tried to get their hooks into Top Rank first and he rebuffed.

Guess who gets the UFC Boxing lifeline now?

Lance Pugmire, who rarely speaks out of turn when it comes to relaying UFC news, included this important clue in his LA Times article:

One pursuit White could explore is dealing with powerful boxing manager Al Haymon, who has nearly 200 boxers in his stable and hires different promoters for certain fights. His Premier Boxing Champions lacks a powerful voice to promote its fighters, who include unbeaten heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and unbeaten welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.

Our October 29th article previewed how UFC Boxing could be used by Fox Sports as a promotional vehicle for Al Haymon’s stable of boxers given the impact of the Kansas hedge fund shareholder derivative lawsuit on Premier Boxing Champions. The Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather fight was a dry run for Ari Emanuel to see if Dana White and Al Haymon could work together. They can, they have, and they want to work together in the future.

UFC Boxing is absolutely a negotiating carrot for Fox. Fox needs UFC content to keep their cable sports channel stable. Fox also wants to keep their toes in the water on the boxing front as well. UFC Boxing would accomplish this. Fox gets a boxing product on TV. UFC Boxing plays promoter & middleman to get a cut. Al Haymon is able to work with big money to keep his fighters active and recruit new fighters in the process.

The behavior demonstrated by Ari Emanuel and Dana White is not difficult to understand. The question is how much cash is Fox Sports willing to pay. With Disney talking to Fox about buying major distribution & content assets, the Fox empire has made a calculation that an alliance with Disney in the streaming wars versus Netflix, Facebook, Google, and Apple is the best play. Wall Street agrees. The biggest dilemma facing Fox Sports and Disney/ESPN is that their media empires need to own, not lease original programming content. Netflix made its name leasing content and now they have poured all their assets into producing original content. UFC doesn’t want to sell during a time when Fox Sports and ESPN need to buy actual sports properties. UFC Boxing reeks of a play to keep the Zuffa portfolio of programming in the Fox family.

If the big media players won’t pay what UFC wants, UFC will have no choice but to cut bold distribution deals with Silicon Valley. AMAZON IS COMING.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

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