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The Zuffa myth is getting ridiculous

Another mainstream article about the UFC, another new low when it comes to repeating the Zuffa myth. This time it is the Washington Times. Try to see how many errors and Dana White lies you can find in this passage:

Former boxing promoter Dana White? and his partners, Las Vegas casino owners Frank Feritta III and his brother Lorenzo, a former member of the athletic commission, bought Ultimate Fighting Championship and set about to change its image.

“I had heard that UFC was in trouble and was about to go out of business,” White said. “We approached the owner and a month later we owned the company, in January 2001. Once we got involved, we knew what our game plan was.

“The first thing we knew we had to do was to get it sanctioned by all the major athletic commissions. We sat down with officials from Nevada and New Jersey in 20021, and we got that done. We felt we could go back to the cable industry then. The big problem the old UFC had was that Senator [John] McCain went after them because they refused to be sanctioned.2 We took the opposite approach3 and embraced sanctioning.”

Ultimate Fighting Championship now is sanctioned in 20 states, and Ratner is working on gaining sanction in the other 30. It also created weight classes.4 It went to a rounds system (five-minute rounds, five rounds for championship fights).5 It trained referees to move in quickly and stop a bout when a fighter was defenseless.6 And it began drawing not barroom brawlers, but legitimate athletes, many of them, like Couture, former college wrestling champions.7 And all fighters are subject to the same medical and pre- and post-fight drug testing as boxers.8

. . .

“You can be a boxing fan and a UFC fan at the same time,” White said. “The problem with boxing, in my opinion, is all the powers in boxing have done nothing to secure the future of the sport. Guys like Don King and Bob Arum, they don’t care about the future of boxing. All they care about is how much money can I put in my pocket right here and right now.”*

Of course, a huge difference between Ultimate Fighting Championship and boxing is that there are not as many pockets to fill. There are no Don Kings, no promoters9, no sanctioning bodies like the World Boxing Council and the various other entities that get a piece of everything10 — the people who often produce mismatched fights and padded records in an effort to protect their boxers.

There is only Ultimate Fighting Championship,11 which controls all the fighters and dictates how much they get paid (paydays are not revealed,12 and neither are the pay-per-view figures13). Whatever the purse, both fighters receive a fee for showing up and the winner gets a bonus.

Here are the errors and lies I found:

1 New Jersey had already sanctioned MMA events, and run a UFC show, before Zuffa and Dana White took over the UFC. So, White simply lied when he said he sat down with New Jersey in 2002 to get MMA sanctioned.

2 The UFC did not refuse to be sanctioned before White and Zuffa took over. The prior management actively sought state sanctioning for years. In fact Bob Meyrowitz, the man who ran the UFC before White and Zuffa purchased it, recently revealed that it was current UFC owner Frank Fertitta who pulled a last-minute back room maneuver to torpedo MMA’s sanctioning in Nevada. Fertitta purchased the UFC just a little over a year later.

3 Since the UFC had embraced sanctioning well before White and Zuffa bought the promotion, White could not have taken an opposite approach by embracing sanctioning.

4 Weight classes were implemented before White and Zuffa bought the UFC.

5 The round system was impelemented before White and Zuffa bought the UFC.

6 Referee stoppages were implemented somewhere around UFC 3. The UFC emphasized that referees should stop fights to protect fighters for years before White and Zuffa bought the UFC.

7 Couture began fighting in the UFC years before White and Zuffa purchased it. In fact, the prior UFC management brought in at least one Olympic gold medalist, several college wrestling champions and several national wreslting champions to fight in the UFC.

8 The UFC did state mandated drug testing before White and Zuffa purchased the UFC.

9 Actually, the UFC is an MMA promotion.

10 The UFC is also a championshiop sanctioning body and it takes the overwhelming majority of the money made from the fights. Although, to the extent that the article is also making the point that there are no outside sanctioning bodies that set rankings, dictate mandatory title defenses and receive a sancitoning fee, the author is correct.

11 Based on this statement and the prior paragraph, he author appears to believe that the UFC is MMA, not just one of several MMA promotions. This, of course, is incorrect.

12 You can go here for a breakdown of recent UFC fighter salaries.

13 You can go here for a breakdow of recent UFC PPV numbers.

* I leave it to the readers to decide whether this is true or not.

? Dana White was an amateur boxer, a boxercise instructor, a bar bouncer and a fighter manager before working for the UFC. I never heard that he promoted boxing, but I am leaving this as a question mark for now.

Hmmmm . . . I wonder if Thom Loverro, the author of the article, is going to receive an email requesting a correction from the New Jersey Athletic Control Board?

(Hat tip to Ivan Trembow for spotting the article).

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2 Responses

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  1. Factual error #14: Thom Loverro repeated the claim that UFC 60 was sold out. As detailed in the past, it wasn’t.

    For whatever it’s worth, this isn’t the first hack job from Thom Loverro. He also wrote the book version of “The Rise and Fall of ECW,” which is like WWE’s version of ECW history. That book also features a complete misrepresentation of the facts regarding New Jack slicing open Erich Kulas, which stops just short of blaming Kulas for having the nerve to get assaulted and stabbed. That is a far more shameful re-telling of history than even the worst possible “re-writing Zuffa’s history” piece that Loverro could ever possibly write.

  2. Anonymous said

    I’ll add that the picture in the top right corner is not Hermes Franca vs. Joe Jordan, it’s Josh Burkman (top) vs. Josh Neer (bottom).