The UFC held a press conference at 11 am ET in the MSG lobby to release a new report on the economic impact of MMA in NY. Ariel Helwani live tweeted from the event.
During the conference, ZUFFA CEO Lorenzo Fertitta mentioned in passing that the UFC planned 54 shows in 2014 (it will actually be in the 40s), and that regulating MMA in New York state would generate $135,000,000.
“We know what UFC events do for cities around the nation and around the world," said Fertitta. "And now we know what it’s estimated we can do in New York. Legalizing professional MMA in New York means $135 million in economic activity for the state."
The report bases its figures on at least three upstate and two downstate UFC events a year, as well as the establishment of MMA training centers. The report estimated that New York would reap nearly $6 million in sales-tax revenue.
The bill to regulated MMA has earne bipartisan support, but has been thwarted for the past four years due to pressure from Nevada's Culinary Union 266, which has been spectacularly unsuccessful in trying to organize the Station Casino chain, which, like the UFC, is owned by the Fertitta brothers.
“I am hopeful that 2014 is the year that we legalize and regulate MMA in New York,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit. “I, and many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, recognize the tremendous economic impact this increasingly popular sport can bring to New York, and especially to cities upstate.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, who has undemocratically failed to allow the bil to come to a vote said through a spokesman that "we haven’t made any determinations at this point” on whether the issue will be revisited in 2014.
Best line at the conference came from UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
"Look into these hazel eyes, from one NYer to another, stop," said Weidman. "It's enough. Make it happen."
In a bizarre turn of events, some "fans" of the sport, led by the irreverent CagePotato, tweeted in opposition to the number of shows.
•Would any of you legitimately be interested in 54 UFC events per year? Basically one per week?
•Can't wait to see the MMA media market those cards as "PPV quality"...
•Seems like the UFC is in a race to the bottom as far as diluting their product as much as possible is concerned.
•And Dana White already complained that the roster was too big. Won't it have to expand even more to accommodate that many events per year?
•OK so think of the worst, bottom of the barrel fighter the UFC has. Now imagine tons of fight cards with fighters of that caliber on it.
•Of the 54 events next year, how many will be headlined by the IIir Latifis of the sport?
•Dana: We're putting on so many diluted cards that fans are losing interest. What's the plan? Lorenzo: Put on more cards.
•There are 2,430 games in an MLB regular season, and I don't care about that sport either.
•The UFC is going to learn the hard way that putting a mid-carder in the main event only makes them a main-eventer in a literal sense.
Fertitta said afterwards that he misspoke about the 54 fights, and that the number is actually in the 40s. He expanded on his remarks in an interview with Ariel Helwani.
“We are looking at expanding our Fight Night product,” said Fertitta as transcribed by CagePotato. “We have the bottom tier, we have the Ultimate Fighter which we’re taking around the world now. We have obviously the series on FOX Sports 1. We just got done filming The Ultimate Fighter: China which will air in January in China. We’ve got The Ultimate Fighter: Canada and Australia in production right now. We’re in pre-production for series in other various countries around the world. That’s our base."
“In the middle of the pyramid we have our UFC Fight Night brand. We’re gonna take that Fight Night product and expand it into Europe and into Asia next year…We’re gonna add fights in those regions so when you add them on to the 33 we’d do this year, it gets into that 40-ish type number.”
“Is that what I said? 54? It won’t be quite that. I think I misspoke. It’ll be in the 40′s. Right now, we’ll have some news coming up on where they’re gonna air. I think we’re gonna have some ground-breaking ideas as far as where that’s gonna be available.”
The numbers are pretty straight forward. There are around 400 fighters under contract with the UFC, and each needs to fight three times per year. That is of course 1,200 times a fighter has to step into the cage. With twelve fights per card, or 24 fighters, that is a total of about 50 fights that the UFC has to put on. You can take away some fights for injuries, and add some fights as there are likely more than 400 fighters under contract (UFC president Dana White referenced 475 fighters last year). But somewhere around 50 fights is about right, and nothing to whine about.
Thus the unfortunate fan reaction was unfortunate.
UG, would any of you legitimately be interested in 54 UFC events per year? Basically one per week? If you were busy, what steps would you take to prevent the TV from taking you down and holding you in place, forcing you to watch?