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Zuffa Boxing bailout? The potential 2018 fight with Fox, UFC, Al Haymon vs. ESPN & Bob Arum

By Zach Arnold | November 14, 2017

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The biggest UFC story for 2018 may not even involve the Ali Act being amended to cover MMA. No? What could possibly be bigger? A marriage between UFC & Al Haymon that would create a two-headed enemy against Bob Arum.

So why is the media so silent on what looks to be a major combat sports story in 2018? For the same reason there has been relatively scant mainstream media coverage of Al Haymon himself. Those who don’t know don’t care and those who know are largely on Team Haymon’s side.

ESPN, which kicked Al Haymon’s PBC off their network, poached two of his Fox guys (Brian Kenny & Mark Kriegel) with zero publicity. 2018 is now the year of a potential boxing war between ESPN & Top Rank (Bob Arum) vs. Fox, UFC, and Al Haymon.

How did we get to this point?

The Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight constructively turned out to be a dry run of a business relationship between Dana White & Al Haymon. Dana White has publicly trashed just about every power broker in the history of American combat sports… except Haymon. 100% nice words about Al Haymon the entire time. Huh.

Haymon is back in manager/Svengali mode with a stable of fighters who need fights. Depositions are ongoing in the Kansas shareholder derivative lawsuit against the hedge fund that reportedly poured hundreds of millions of dollars into backing Premier Boxing Champions. The lawsuit is attempting to claw back the money that was spent by the hedge fund.

Haymon has made his tens of millions of dollars. Premier Boxing Champions was his promotional vehicle to keep his stable of fighters active and dominate the boxing scene on broadcast television. It didn’t work out as planned, which is why Golden Boy’s anti-trust lawsuit against Haymon failed.

Haymon needs promotional vehicles to keep his fighters active to fulfill contractual obligations and to recruit new talent. Enter UFC Boxing.

UFC Boxing is a negotiating carrot that appears to fit the agenda of Fox Sports. Fox inks a new deal with UFC and here comes UFC Boxing as a promotional banner to book fights involving Al Haymon guys. It’s a win-win-win scenario for all parties involved. Fox gets boxing action, UFC gets to diversify their portfolio, and both UFC & Al Haymon get to recruit boxing talent that may have signed with another promoter — like Bob Arum.

Arum sniffed out what was going on when he publicly announced that UFC was attempting to buy out Top Rank’s video library for their Fight Pass web site. But that’s an agenda that appears to be skin deep at best. Arum figured something else was up. Once momentum for amending the Ali Act became real and Fox’s current TV negotiations broke off with UFC, it wasn’t hard to put two and two together.

All the confirmation bias you needed came in the form of two lines of press:

1) Dana White never denied working with Al Haymon in the future.
2) Lance Pugmire in The LA Times floated the trial balloon. Lance doesn’t talk out of turn regarding UFC.

What if Fox doesn’t buy into UFC Boxing?

Fox Sports needs UFC programming for their platforms. They have to do it. I’m surprised Fox hasn’t been able to buy out UFC altogether but the complications from amending the Ali Act for MMA may make this an issue of mootness.

But what if Fox blows it? It’s a highly unlikely scenario but… if Fox won’t play with UFC, then someone in Silicon Valley will step up. I argue that Amazon is Best of Breed when it comes to buying future sports programming. The demographics also make great sense for Amazon. 18-to-49 year old demographic, perhaps getting a little older but still pliable in terms of shopping habits. It makes too much sense.

And right in the thick of all of this action is Al Haymon. The guy is a boxing zombie. He just can’t be killed. A marriage between Haymon and UFC makes a lot of sense. It has the potential to be explosive and draw the line in the sand against heavyweights ESPN & Bob Arum.

This is the kind of material sports writers would normally dream of writing columns about. So why are so many major names in combat sports writing so silent? Don’t chalk it up to ignorance. There are people who have inside knowledge and not talking for one reason or another.

Topics: Boxing, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

7 Responses to “Zuffa Boxing bailout? The potential 2018 fight with Fox, UFC, Al Haymon vs. ESPN & Bob Arum”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    UFC 218… useless rematch for a main event.

    UFC 219…. Holm is 1-3 In her last 4 fights and has never won at Featherweight and is getting a title shot.

    UFC 219…. Diaz hasn’t beaten a true Welterweight in over 5 years. Is getting a title shot.

    What a complete joke. I already deleted all of my MMA apps from my phone. This sport is dead. I’m left only watching GSP from now on and then I’m done.

  2. Diaz's packed bowl says:

    They sure botched the Diaz bros potential. First they don’t even have a fight lined up for Nick when his suspension was up. Then instead of hiring Nick to do a new show where folks be talking about the fights and smoke weed, they hire snoop dog.
    As far as the rankings go its totally out of whack now with unranked fighters constantly being considered and used in title fights outside their normal weight. They are purposely putting on this shit show to keep the fighters at @others throats while they siphon their money away.
    They want to allow fighters to box to get a cut of their boxing fights, and to prevent the ali act from being changed. Its run by some real scummy people, the same ones dana used to yell about stealing away Carano.

    Now a days the best thing is watching the fighters get popped for peds.

  3. Nepal says:

    Zach,
    Is it my browswe or is there no sidebar articles???

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I got the site theme changed for mobile/tablets so that there’s no sidebars because too many people complained the site would not load for them. After the change, success.

      I am looking for a long term WordPress theme solution to address PC, mobile, and tablet viewing. Find me a good solution and I will implement it.

  4. Nepal says:

    Serious bummer.

    I read FO 95% of the time on my mobile. Never ever couldn’t load in all these many years.

    I fear you just lopped off a huge percentage of your readership.

    I hope you can bring the sidebars back for mobile!!!

  5. Fedor Gracie says:

    I agree w/ Nepal about the sidebars.
    I use it to save me time looking
    around linkbaiting websites. Its perfectly curated to my taste and BS tolerance.

    You HAVE to bring it back, even when you
    have no recent text, it’s still useful.

    Never had any problems on my various
    androids. Not a web dude so I hope someone
    finds the time to drop you a word because it
    benefits us all.

    Thnx 4 all ur work.

  6. Zach Arnold says:

    Good news for those using mobile/tablet and can’t view sidebars — I am creating a temporary fix.

    The temp fix will be a dedicated MMA feeds page similar to our boxing feeds page. I will pin it to the top of the posts so that you can access it whenever.

    Give me a few days to work this out. Long term, I need to find a new two-column theme that works on PC, mobile, and tablet. Help me to help you all out.

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