The Time Has Comethe New Face Of The Ufc
THE TIME HAS COME
For years you have heard me rant about what needs to be done with this sport to take it to the top where it belongs. I have preached to all that would listen. To build a sport you need to build a foundation, that being the fighters. It is a pretty simple concept called promotion. Of course that is not the only thing that needs to be done to improve the sport, but for years my cries fell on deaf ears all the while trying to convince the biggest fight promotion in the U.S. to listen, with limited success. Well, my prayers have been answered by way of "ZUFFA!" No, it is not a new vitamin or a new concept car or even an Italian zoo, but the name of a bright future for fight fans around the world. ZUFFA is made up of 2 parts Fertitta and one part Sortini, in a fine mix of proven success. ZUFFA-Italian: to fight or scrap. English: UFC HAS BEEN SOLD! Lorenzo Fertitta and his brother Frank along with brother-in-law Blake Sortini have formed the company [ZUFFA] that has purchased Ultimate Fighting Championship [UFC] from the former owners, SEG. What to expect? "Growth and a commitment to the fighters," states Dana White, the new President who will run the day-to-day operations of the UFC.
The Fertitta brothers along with brother-in-law Blake Sortini are no strangers to big business, as each are among the most successful businessmen in Las Vegas. With casinos and breweries as some of the successful businesses they own, these men are winners at what they do. Clearly it is Lorenzo Fertitta who is the brains behind the move into the world of Mixed Martial Arts…and why not? If ever there was a man who would get the Nevada State Athletic Commission to look favorably on the sport, it is Lorenzo, who sat on the Commission for 4 years and the last year served as vice chairman. Lorenzo is quick to point out the Commission will render no decision without doing their homework on the matter.
I sat down with Loenzo Fertitta at his office in Las Vegas and talked about the future of the UFC and about the sport in general. It was clear that the man is a big fan and understands what needs to be done as owner of the future of Mixed Martial Arts.
FCF: Lorenzo, what is your relationship with the UFC at this time?
FCF: How does someone like yourself get interested in buying the UFC. You currently own casinos here in Las Vegas [amongst many other holdings]; please give us a little background. How does it start?
FCF: When you were a member on the Nevada State Athletic Commission, I came out to Vegas along with the UFC and their lawyer. As it was told to me, there was to be a vote on whether the Nevada State Athletic Commission was going to approve the UFC. But a vote never did take place; can you tell me why a vote never happened and what was your feeling about the UFC at that time?
FCF: I would like to clarify; going back to the time when this matter came before the Commission, what were your feelings about the sport at the time? Did you even think it was a sport? Did you have a problem with the sport? There is some confusion on the matter.
FCF: How do we [meaning ZUFFA] take the sport to the next level? How do we turn that corner and educate new fans, not the fans we already have [the ones that keep this sport alive], but bringing in new fans, that is essential to the growth of this sport. How do you reach those fans and what is the next step of the UFC in doing so?
FCF: You are a big boxing fan, what got you interested in boxing?
My father started in the casino business early on, in the 1960s, and he worked his way up through the casino business. In 1977, he saw an opportunity to open a small facility, 5,000 sq ft and the thing that was different about that was, it was positioned to cater to the locals, which had never been done before in Las Vegas-everything was either downtown or on the strip and in Las Vegas it catered to tourists. A lot of people thought it was crazy at the time because it had never been done, but looking back now he essentially created a whole new market which is the locals market Las Vegas which is a thriving market in Las Vegas. In 1993, we took the company public, my father retired and my brother Frank Ferrite III, Blake Sortini and myself carried the company forward. We were the majority shareholders. It is a New York Stock Exchange company and we’ve grown rapidly and been very successful over a number of years. In addition to that, we also have holdings in various other investments. In areas, one being the Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, which I bought an interest in 1995, and we grew that company rapidly.
FCF: Is Gordon Biersch a franchise?
FCF: I read you also acquired new casinos recently.
FCF: Getting back to the boxing…how do you become a member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission?
FCF: How long did you sit on the board?
FCF: Why are you no longer on the board?
Pictured: Lorenzo Fertitta talking with NJ State Athletic Control Board Chairman Larry Hazzard
FCF: Okay, the question that needs to be asked…what is the likelihood of the UFC coming to Vegas and getting approved by the Commission?
FCF: As a smart businessman, you know for this to be a profitable company, you have to get back on mainstream cable again. What is the likelihood of this happening?
FCF: Are any talks underway? Have you made any communication letting the cable companies know there is a new owner in town?
FCF: With such a busy day, what kind of role will you play in day-to-day operations of the UFC?
FCF: Why the name ZUFFA? What does it stand for?
Leaving the interview, I had a good feeling about the future of the UFC. This company has the money to make things happen. Better pay to attract better fighters and a promotion campaign that needs to go along with it for essential growth. They seemed to be big fans of the sport as well as having great energy heading towards accomplishing their goals. It is too early to tell if all that is said will be done, but I witnessed the ball already beginning to roll in the right direction. My concern for the UFC as I see it now, is listing to bad advice as the previous owner did. Looking within the company for previous mistakes and bad advice and having the courage fix the problem will help with the growth of this sleeping giant.
Originally published in the February 2001 issue of FCF
"NO HOLDS BARRED" ON EYADA SPORTS,
THE WEEK OF MARCH 12-16:
by Eddie Goldman
Great fights, great fighters, terrible tragedies, and nagging scandals — these are some of the component parts of the world of combat sports, and once again we will cover each and every one of these aspects this week. From Renzo Gracie and Mark Kerr to Marc Ratner to a live report from the 2001 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships to much, much more, we’ve got it all on “No Holds Barred” this week.
"No Holds Barred" can be heard every Monday through Friday, 3 to 5 PM New York time (Eastern Time – U.S.), only on eYada.com (http://www.eyada.com).
Now there is an even easier way to listen to all the news and interviews we provide on "No Holds Barred" about mixed martial arts, grappling, boxing, kickboxing, and wrestling. We have a new, direct link that lets you play the show when it is on live, or play the archive after the live show. It is:
Monday, March 12 — We open today’s busy show with a report from Japanese NHB journalist Tadashi Tanaka about another scandal in Japan possibly involving the mixed martial arts. Renzo Gracie joins us to talk about his fight in Pride 13 on March 25 with Dan Henderson. And Doug Fischer, editor of Houseofboxing.com, also joins us with his regular weekly analysis of the latest in the world of the "Sweet Science," including a ringside review of last Saturday’s Shane Mosley-Shannan Taylor fight, as well as a discussion of a potential Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight, and the recent tragic situation involving veteran boxer Greg Page.
Tuesday, March 13 — Mark Kerr has been on top of three worlds — mixed martial arts, wrestling, and grappling. Today he joins us to talk about his upcoming Superfight grappling match against Mario Sperry at the 2001 Submission Wrestling World Championships, to be held April 11-13 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Also, fighter Brian Gassaway will be returning to Pancrase in Japan on March 31, facing two-time former King of Pancrase Yuki Kondo. Today Brian joins us.
Wednesday, March 14 — Shonie Carter wants to fight — in a ring or a cage, that is. Today he joins us to talk about his upcoming plans. Also, Matt Hughes is coming off two disappointing losses, in UFC and Warrior’s War, and will try to return to the win column at this coming Saturday’s Rings USA show. Today Matt joins us.
Thursday, March 15 — There has been much talk about the possibility of mixed martial arts being sanctioned in the state of Nevada, whose athletic commission is considered the most influential and most meticulous in all its work. Today we speak with Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, about this, as well as about the state of boxing and the recent tragic situation involving veteran boxer Greg Page. Also, it’s do-or-die time in college wrestling, and veteran wrestling journalist and photographer Bob Mayeri is in Iowa City for the 2001 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which open today. Bob brings us a live report, as well as possibly some interviews with some of wrestling’s notables.
Friday, March 16 — Joel Gold, publisher of "Full Contact Fighter," joins us today to share his unique perspective on mixed martial arts. We also continue our reports from veteran wrestling journalist and photographer Bob Mayeri, who is in Iowa City for the 2001 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which is in its second day.
From the event’s promoter:
MASS DESTRUCTION – VALE TUDO
WHEN: Saturday, April 14th, 2001
WHERE: South End Community Center, Springfield, Massachusetts
CONTACT: Joe Cuff (860) 376-3563, firstname.lastname@example.org
TIME: Doors open at 6:30PM, 1st Match Starts 7:30 PM Sharp
TICKETS: $25 General Admission, Limited Tickets we will sell out! Buy them ahead-a-time from Joe!
The MASS DESTRUCTION- VALE TUDO HAS AN UNBELIEVABLE CARD. Over 15 incredible matches with many of the Northeast’s top instructors competing. Here are just a few of the fighters:
Kirik Jenness vs. Chris Roberts
Founder of mixedmartialarts.com, MMA Debut Veteran of Dangerzone
Lightweight Title Fight
Gunnar Olsen vs. Jeff Williamson
Ken Kronenberg vs. TBA
Nuri Shakir vs. Dawson Walton
Ray Duval vs. Ed Carr
Justin Torrey vs. TBA
CHAMPIONSHIP BELTS FOR ALL WINNERS!
Call Joe if you would like to get on the card! We only have 4 spots left.
RITC press release from John Petrilli:
RITC Back to SATURDAY Nights !!!
Rage in the Cage XXVI will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2001 at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Fight time: 7:00 PM
Two Super Fights have been announced.
The rest of the card is being finalized. Here is a list of featured fighters expected to compete.
Tickets are available at all Ticket Master locations (480-784-4444) or at the Celebrity Theatre Box Office.
From the event’s promoter:
CAPITOL CITY GRAPPLING III APRIL 21 SAT.
Who will take home the belts? (lightweight-heavyweight-absolute belts) and $1000 sponsorship money. There will be 4 divisions-beginner, novice,intermediate, and advanced. There will also be women’s and kid’s divisions. Last year Ralph Gracie’s team took home the team trophy with (WERNECKJJ) Brazilian JJ Training Center of Sacramento taking 2nd. There will be a $5 spectator fee. For info contact Carlos Garcia or Raven Seymon of the the BRAZILIAN JJ TRAINING CENTER of Sacto. ca. at 916-3942755 fax:916-394-2757 or Roseville JJ& WRESTLING 916-716-2080 E-MAIL:CCgrappling info.@aol.com Our website is under construction presently it will be up shortly so you can download entry forms. Address www.sacbjj.com :Location:Kennedy High School 6715 Gloria Drive Sacramento Ca.