White’s Announcement Just That

UFC President Dana White

Depending on your point of view, the announcement that came out of Las Vegas Wednesday may be a big deal or just another piece of MMA news.  According to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, Lorenzo Fertitta, president of one of the most successful casino chains in Las Vegas, has resigned his position with Station Casinos to work full-time with the UFC.  UFC President Dana White’s announcement – again depending on your point of view – may have a significant impact on the MMA world; White added that Fertitta joining UFC is a big moment in the organization’s history.

Fertitta said that by him joining the UFC wasn’t a indictment of White; on the contrary, Fertitta added that he joined up because the move was necessary because of the significant growth of the brand.  Specifically, Fertitti said, “The problem, if there is a problem, is that the business has gotten so successful, it’s requiring more time, focus and attention.  Station Casinos is a business my family and I have built and now it’s a multi-billion dollar company.  But the reality is, the UFC has gone through so much growth in the last eight years, my brother and I felt we’d be better in divide and conquer mode.  He’ll stay at Station Casinos and take care of that and I’ll come over here and work on the issues involving the UFC.”

Frank Fertitta III (Lorenzo’s brother) will remain as CEO of Station Casinos, although he will keep his stake in UFC; Lorenzo’s responsibility will be to develop the international side of UFC – which at one time had difficulty gaining acceptance in the United States.  And rest assured that Fertitti has big plans; he plans to expand outside outside of the US and the United Kingdom into mainstream Europe.  Countries Fertitti plans to explore are Italy, France, Spain and Germany; Fertitti also said that he envisions expansion into the Baltic region (Russia, Croatia) and is working to get a relationship going with the Saudi Arabia region to gain a foothold there.  In addition, Fertitta is working on landing additional sponsors for the brand, as well.

The announcement had all kinds of teeth to it; some of the rumors floated ranged from the UFC purchasing the dying International Fight League to landing a network television deal.  So to that end, White was successful as he kept the announcement very close to the vest until Wednesday.  Coincidentally, the announcement was made to UFC employees at Palace Station – one of the Station Casinos’ properties.  White said that Fertitta’s presence in the office daily should make a big impact on the company, adding, “These people who are working for us, maybe some of them wonder if they did the right thing coming to a company that promotes mixed martial arts fights.  Everyone has doubts, right?  Well, when you see Lorenzo Fertitta, a guy who was the No. 2-highest paid casino executive in Las Vegas, quit that job to come to work full-time for the UFC, that will be pretty strong evidence that they’ve made the correct move.  The Internet may not consider this huge news, but what the people on the Internet think is huge and what I think is huge are two different things.  But you know what?  I think I have a pretty good track record.  I think this is maybe the biggest day in UFC history.  I’m so excited, I can’t begin to explain it to you.  This is an historic day for me and this company.”  White is correct in that dissertation; Fertitta’s involvement with UFC will make it easier for UFC to gain a stranglehold on the MMA industry and quite possibly leave the independents in their dust.

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