UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta Fertitta addresses his company's future with Lance Pugmire of the LA Times.
Lance Pugmire: In addition to your Fox debut, you're building another star in Jones, and now have Brock returning. A good start for your second decade?
Lorenzo Fertitta: "Yes, but our biggest issue lately has been 11 of our last 14 main events have fallen out and required replacement fighters. It's like there's been a hex over us. So it's been a challenge to run the business how we've planned to. Forcing to shuffle in guys, re-scramble … it takes the steam out of your sails. It helped having the Fox card in there, and, listen, we're still kicking ass by not cancelling shows like boxing would. If we get a stroke of luck with good health here, we're off to the races."
LP: How did you make the Fox deal happen?
LF: "We didn't have to do a thing. We were like the pretty girl at the dance. We had every major media company talking to us to obtain our rights from our expiring deal at Spike. In the age of the DVR and things like Hulu, when you can watch any show any time you want, sports is really the one asset that's must-see live television. I know it's rare that a brand like Fox just jumps right in to something, but they wanted us, and we got a deal done over a weekend."
LP: The most valuable player of baseball is dealing with a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. Your sport has been affected by use. How do you address this in a firm way?
LF: "We do a whole program with our fighters, bring in the [Drug Enforcement Agency] to lecture them about the dangers of PEDs. We urge commissions to adopt random testing — at anytime within 48 hours, they have to provide a sample. If a guy knows he's only getting tested before and after a fight, it's easy to manipulate. To me, that's the weakness of other sports, like with the NFL players running from HGH testing. If you encourage testing, embrace it, there's significantly less perception that you have a safety or credibility issue."
LP: What stands between your sport and full mainstream sports acceptance?
LF: "Sports media — newspapers — have been late to the party. It's a bit like what happened with NASCAR. This is what people want. So it's just a matter of time before these editors realize we have the attention of Generation X and Generation Y. We are the main sport online. That said, I do believe we're completely accepted as a major sport in the U.S. I still get the past stigmas when I go to other countries, but we're past that here now."
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