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Ivan Trembow has had enough of the Zuffa myth

Ivan Trembow, a reporter for MMA Weekly, has published a long, detailed post on his blog that rips the UFC and Zuffa for what he refers to as their lies. He details several areas in which he thinks Zuffa has been less than forthcoming, including their statements about paid attendance and their claiming that Royce Gracie had an undefeated record going into his fight against Matt Hughes. Trembow also touches on two topics that I have written about frequently, the UFC’s pro wrestling business model and the Zuffa myth in which Zuffa takes credit for implementing rules that were in place before it purchased the UFC.

It is all very interesting stuff. But, what caught my eye was something that, frankly, I had not thought about in years. Trembow recaps the history of Zuffa’s purchase of the UFC and the UFC’s seeking sanctioning from Nevada (which actually took place in 1999, not 2000 as Trembow recalls):

Here’s the actual story about how SEG came to sell the UFC to Zuffa, gathered from multiple issues of the Wrestling Observer, with edits made in brackets to fill in context or correct grammar: “Meyrowitz [former UFC president Bob Meyrowitz] would go to InDemand [the PPV company] and ask what he needed to do to get back on InDemand, and they said the UFC needed to get sanctioned [by a major sanctioning body]. He got sanctioned in New Jersey, and was basically told that he needed to get it sanctioned in Nevada, as that was the most influential athletic commission in the country. In 2000, he set up a meeting in Las Vegas, and at the time, sanctioning was going to happen based on what inside sources were telling both Meyrowitz and InDemand. Suddenly, the night before the approval that was going to be the step to put the UFC back on the map, Meyrowitz was told that he was going to be voted down [the next day, when his request was scheduled to be voted on by the members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission]. He didn’t have the votes. He was also told that if he followed through the next day, and was voted down, he would never have an opportunity to be sanctioned. So, he pulled out, they created some cover reason as to why he was pulling his attempt at sanctioning, and basically he was screwed. Lorenzo Fertitta [the current co-owner of the UFC] was an influential member of the Nevada commission at the time. A few months later, Fertitta purchased the UFC [for $2 million], then got sanctioning in Nevada, and then got on PPV.”

To clarify the timeline, Fertita and White purchased the UFC in January, 2001, more than a year after the UFC unsuccessfully sought sanctioning from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

How ironic is it that while Zuffa has been trumpeting the myth that it changed the UFC’s direction and sought to get MMA sanctioned by state athletic commissions (which we know is false) the truth is that its owner was vice chairman of a commission [Update 7/21: who, according to Bob Meyrowitz, personally] pulled a behind the scenes maneuver to prevent Nevada from sanctioning the UFC – and thereby drove down the value of the promotion and made it possible for him to purchase it a year later? Kinda puts the whole Zuffa myth in a new perspective, doesn’t it?

Trembow’s post is long and detailed, and you should definitely check it out.

Also, anyone interested in learning more about the pre-Zuffa UFC should check out Eddie Goldman’s interview of Bob Meyrowitz, who was the CEO of the UFC’s prior owner (SEG).

Update 7/21: Meyrowitz states in his interview with Eddie Goldman that it was Lorenzo Fertitta who killed sanctioning of the MMA in Nevada. The post has been updated accordingly.

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  1. The timeline clarification has been noted, corrected, and credited to you in the original article. Thank you for the clarification.