So it looks like UFC has become the new google of MMA. After breaking ground on their Las Vegas 180,000 square foot campus, that will host corporate offices as well as a UFC Health and Performance center, UFC chairman and CEO David Fertita spoke about the very new age and fighter focused vision he has for the facility and UFC as a whole.
“Forty-thousand of it will be the Athlete Health and Performance Center. As you can see from the model, there’s going to be a lot of outdoor space. One of the things that we have evolved into is a media company. We’re creating a lot of content and doing a lot of things. We want to provide a lot of group workspaces – a lot of think tank spaces – whether it’s indoor or outdoor to kind of foster that creativity so we can continue to raise the bar.”
MMA and “think tank”, back in the no holds bars days who would’ve thought those words would ever go in the same sentence?
According to Dana white the facility was long overdue practically and financially. UFC prior office building were all being leased and employees were basically sitting on each other’s laps during meetings.
“I was in a broom closet over there and we slowly started to venture out and take a little space. Then we ended up buying the building. Then we owned three buildings over there. Then we leased 70 percent of the space right down to the McDonalds by Palace Station. When you think about it, it’s been almost 15 years now. Here we are breaking ground on this new campus.”
But like any unveiling on such a big stage the event wasn’t marred without controversy as many were left wondering how the UFC could afford such a facility with so many fighters claiming low wages. This comes at an especially sensitive time as many are still fuming over the lost of promotional income from UFC’s Reebok deal. While David Fertita refused to give a price tag for the facility, he did offer a response.
“That’s always going to be an issue,” Fertitta said. “If we distributed 200 percent of our revenue people would be complaining about fighter pay. The fact of the matter is, fighter pay has continued to increase every year that we’ve owned the company. We pay way more than anybody else in this space, that’s a factor. You have some fighters that maybe aren’t happy with what they get.”
“But, at the end of the day, the fighters that achieve great things in this sport and get to the level of being able to make a career out of it, you don’t see many of those athletes complaining. That’s the fact of the matter. The guys that are rising to the top are making the majority of the money. Relative to this, we’re making an investment in the future so the company can continue to go on and achieve even bigger things so the revenue will continue to grow. Obviously, that will continue to flow down to the fighters. This is no different from any other business.”
As an MMA purist vague statements like “rise to the top” make me particularly nervous because it seems to me salaries will be based on publicity rather than skill level. Don’t get me wrong there’s a place for the Chael Sonnen’s of this world but I tune in for the skill level. The magic that happens when two elite fighters give it their all. But what can I say, it is a business after all.
The new UFC campus is set to be finished and fully operational by March of 2017. Stay tunes for more!