by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
After weeks of speculation, the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday finally let its employees in on “the big announcement” that everyone has been bantering about. According to Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports, co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta has resigned his position as president of Station Casinos to take on a more active role in the UFC.
As mentioned by both Fertitta and company president Dana White in Iole’s report, the move is not a condemnation of White’s performance as president of the company, but rather an indication of how much growth the company has undergone and intends to sustain in the future.
Fertitta is expected to focus on developing the international business of the company as the UFC expands into Germany and other European countries, the Philippines and other Asian countries, Australia, and South America.
Speculation about White’s “big announcement” has centered on everything from a network TV deal to a change in ownership to taking the company public and everything in between. So as White said in his comments to Iole, the Internet-based MMA community as a whole probably won’t see this as a significant announcement. That is primarily because most of the fans that follow the sport are concerned with the fighters and the fights, not the behind the scenes business of the company.
It should, however, be noted that despite it’s lack of glitz to either the casual or hardcore fight fan, Fertitta’s resignation from Station Casinos – a billion dollar a year company – to take a more prominent role in the future of the UFC is anything but insignificant.
Fertitta would not leave his position as one of the highest paid casino executives in Las Vegas, especially as the company is aggressively developing new properties, if there wasn’t just cause to believe the UFC was undergoing its own significant growing phase.
There likely won’t be any immediate changes for the casual fan to notice in the short term, but as the company expands its reach across the globe, there will be numerous developments that fans will appreciate, but not likely know to credit to Fertitta’s expanded involvement.