After Mayweather-McGregor – Is Zuffa Boxing a Thing?
By Bryanna Fissori
It is common knowledge that boxing makes significantly more money than MMA. If that has not been made clear to anyone, then they have no idea what the upcoming Conor McGregor v Floyd Mayweather fight is even about.
Show Me the Money
What is less on the forefront of all the media hype and circus surrounding the bout is the benefits to dear ‘ole Dana White. White is the President of the UFC, which is the world’s largest MMA promotion. He is also standing by his fighter, UFC Champion Conor McGregor through virtually every step of the transition into boxing. In that same stride, White is also stepping into the world of boxing. The much more lucrative sport of boxing . . .
Over the last year and a half, McGregor has been very vocal in his compliant about the pay scale for MMA fighters. In his boxing debut McGregor will make more than his total income in his four and a half years with the UFC. Money is an issue and with potentially $100 million to gain, there is money to be made in boxing, but not just for the fighters.
New Owners Mean New Possibilities: WME-IMG
White essentially built from the ground up, what we see today as the UFC and the face of the sport. With the recent acquisition of the UFC by WME-IMG there are likely to be a number of changes taking place within the organization. The first of which being the allowance of McGregor to compete outside his UFC contract. Obviously, the company has something up its sleeve or there is no way they would chance their champion to injury or embarrassment, especially since the UFC is not actually promoting or co-promoting the event.
One thing that the UFC may gain by allowing McGregor to compete is the potential influx of a new fan base. The boxing and MMA media outlets have been promoting this bout for months. With the big chunk of change ($4 billion) WME-IMG laid down to purchase the UFC, they have some ground to cover. Marketing though boxing is a creative way to do it. Especially if they can get casual viewers who happen to flip through Fox Sports 1 to stop and watch, that could help their TV ratings significantly. TV ratings have not been as successful as the UFC would have hoped over the three-year contract period and they are currently negotiating a new contract.
One of the biggest signs of something brewing has been the Reebok-made “Zuffa Boxing” shirt that White has worn in front of the media. When asked about it in an interview White replied “It’s an entity. You never know. I didn’t say no, I didn’t say yes.”
It is probably safe to say that the shirt was not worn by accident and fans can expect news to surface shortly after the bout. The Mayweather v McGregor showdown is a huge undertaking and White is getting a chance to just get his feet wet and observe with minimal input. This is very different from the UFC run PPV events in which every detail is controlled by the promotion.
Probably Just a Matter of When and How
Should the UFC decide to promote boxing events as well as MMA, they may fashion a system of co-promotion similar to that of Bellator MMA. Bellator is the second largest MMA promotion in the United Stated, but the company hosts kickboxing events internationally. The big difference is that kickboxing money is nothing like the magnitude of boxing money.
The interesting part will be seeing how big a share WME-IMG will have in boxing promotion or do White and the Fertitta brothers (originally UFC owners) have plans of their own, either as a co-promotion with the UFC under the Zuffa trademark, or will they skip out and do their own thing? Could this mean White stepping away from MMA in exchange for boxing? From the looks of it, White is enjoying his involvement in this mini-circus of a boxing fight and there will be more to come.