Tuesday, October 18, was a dark day at UFC headquarters. The company executed a round of layoffs, which is expected to total somewhere between 60 and 80 employees, when all is said and done. The total is expected to account for somewhere shy of 15-percent of the company’s current global workforce, although none of the promotion’s offices are expected to be shut down.
It wasn’t a complete surprise, as layoffs frequently take place when a large company is purchased.
The UFC was purchased by WME|IMG for a reported $4.2 billion in July. As with any new ownership, WME|IMG had many of its own ideas about running things, which led to Tuesday’s round of layoffs, which included numerous high level executives.
Chief among those revealed on Tuesday were Chief Global Brand Officer Garry Cook, Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznik, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Asia Ken Berger, and Senior Vice President of Global Content Jamie Pollack.
“This has been a magnificent experience with one of the greatest sports enterprises of the modern day. I am thankful and proud to have played a part in their brand story working with Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White, Lawrence Epstein, and all the talented individuals at the UFC,” Cook said in a statement to MMAWeekly.com following his release.
“With the new leadership from WME/IMG, the next era of continuing to redefine the global sports landscape is very exciting. I wish them well delivering on their vision for success.”
Prior to Tuesday’s shake-up, several other UFC executives had already decided to leave the company.
Longtime matchmaker Joe Silva (officially Senior Vice President of Talent Relations) confirmed in September that he would be retiring sometime around the end of 2016. Giovani Decker, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Brazil, resigned from the company in late September. Dave Sholler, Vice President of Public Relation and Athlete Marketing & Development, also recently announced his departure, as he has taken a position with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Upon sale of the promotion, UFC president Dana White entered into a five-year contract to remain with the new ownership.
Overall, the layoffs are expected to come from most departments throughout the company, but isn’t expected to immediately impact the number of scheduled UFC events.
Although changes like this frequently occur when new ownership moves in, it was a tough day for numerous employees, particularly at the Las Vegas headquarters, where many of the layoffs included employees that have spent years building the UFC to its current stature.