To celebrate 25 years of existence, the UFC publishes a list of the top 25 fights in the promotion’s history. The McGregor vs. Diaz rivalry is awarded the top two spots. The first fight, which Diaz memorably won by submission is the runner-up to the dramatic five-round majority decision won by McGregor.
#5 – Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard II (January 2011)
#4 – Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald II (July 2015)
#3 – Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson I (November 2011)
#2 – Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz I (March 2016)
#1 – Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II (August 2016)
WME-IMG, owners of the UFC, set a $10 million asking price for the title sponsor of the McGregor-Mayweather fight. The $10 million would nearly double boxing’s largest single-fight sponsorship, the $5.6 million that Tecate paid for Mayweather-Pacquiao in May 2015. The sponsoring company would get its logo at the center of the ring at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, its branding on ring girls, on two of the ropes and in the two nonfighter corners of the ring. The deal also includes sponsorship of the first minute of every round on the broadcast and $500,000 in tickets. For $5 million sponsors can buy one of the fighters’ corners that would include signage in that corner, sponsorship to the broadcast corner cam and $250,000 in tickets.
Johnson releases a lengthy statement in which he complains about multiple issues, including lack of promotion, from the UFC. He says White has been trying to bully him to take fights he does not want.
For years I have been a company man and kept quiet, accepting fights, doing as they asked, and always remaining humble and grateful for the opportunities provided to me through mixed martial arts. This is how I was raised through the sport. Unfortunately, UFC’s mistreatment and bullying has finally forced me to speak out…
- I agreed to their tyrannical demand to fight Ray Borg and Ray also agreed.
- UFC has refused to give me PPV points on any future flyweight bouts, and has never given me any PPV points on previous bouts. My request was fair and the matchmaker in charge of the flyweight and bantamweight division agreed.
- I gave UFC fair conditions to change the fight to TJ Dillashaw and they refused.
- Dana and Sean have told me that they have no interest in marketing me or the smaller divisions, so when they say that I will make PPV money vs. Dillashaw, they leave out the fact that I have to hit certain numbers of buys, which will not be hit if they fail in marketing me like they have in my previous fights.
- If TJ doesn’t make weight, I can’t break the record for the most consecutive title defenses and they have denied paying me in that circumstance.
- Dana has made an effort to bully me in the media as well as in private, in order to get what he wants, even though it is not what is best for me or the sport.
- If Dana says this will be a big PPV fight for me, and that they will promote it properly, then he can pay for it up front and explain to Ray Borg why he is being taken out of the fight that the UFC matchmaker in charge of the division put him in. Otherwise, it is just another lie and attempt to bully me to do something that Dana wants, but is not the right thing to do for the sport or my career.
- UFC’s track record in making an effort to promote my fights, and Dana’s claim that this is a big chance for PPV dollars for me tells a different story than what Dana is stating to the public.
Jeff Mayweather says McGregor has been offered an uneven split by the UFC to fight his nephew.
Last I heard, Conor McGregor has to take a horrendous split: 80 to 20 percent. [McGregor] would have to take 20 percent, if he’s allowed to fight. And the one thing is that Dana’s his boss. He’ll still make more money than he ever did, but at the same time … that’s a very tough pill to swallow.
A UFC-commissioned study says UFC 205 brought in $57 million of benefits to New York city. In addition to ticket receipts totaling $17.7 million and big spending from domestic and international visitors, the McGregor-headlined card contributed a total of $37.4 million in economic output for NY, surpassing the promotion’s initial $32 million projection. Salaries and wages tied to the event added $18.3 million more, and the UFC also paid out $1.6 million in state taxes. 300 jobs were created. Governor Cuomo:
Mixed martial arts competitions have already proven to be major economic drivers across New York, and the jobs and revenue generated by this event illustrates the enormous impact of this growing industry in our state.
In his most recent podcast, Sonnen talks about the ongoing rift between the UFC and McGregor, noting the UFC’s power to make stars.
When Randy Couture retired and Tito Ortiz got into his pissing match and stepped aside, they were left with absolutely no stars and they created one overnight called Andrei Arlovski…His skills were not great but he had the look and he had the marketing machine behind him and the next thing you knew, not only was he ranked #1, but he was also selling out arenas. The point I’m trying to make, and Conor may not know this story, they created something out of nothing overnight, it literally took them just over a week to do it…Tito was soon forgotten. Tito – who was the biggest star at the time – could not get an appearance at the local country fair and the same thing can happen with Conor. And you think that it can’t, but it can, and it can happen overnight. If he wants to puff and if he puffs a little too hard. If in the office he becomes too hard to deal with and they can’t get something done. It’s going to be game over, and it’s going to be game over in record time. And that’s what he doesn’t understand. He thinks he’s going to come on shows like this [podcasts] or go on Sports Centre and tell his side, he will not. When we all get the email that says ‘he’s out and this is who’s in’, that’s who we are then going to talk to…It’s like, ‘hey man, as good as you think you are, not only is there a guy who can beat you, we know who the guy is and we will put his name opposite your’s once you force us to and we will show you, time and time again, who is in control here and who really set this table.
Emanuel and Whitesell, owners of the UFC, have invited McGregor and the entire roster of over 500 to attend a two day UFC Athlete Retreat in Las Vegas in May. Various actors/actresses, athletes, musicians and others represented by WME/IMG will be appear and interact with the fighters. Fighters will also be able to discuss concerns with the owners. The retreat will end with a concert performed by an as yet unnamed WME/IMG represented artist.
Diaz says the UFC is sidelining him.
I know what this is: I’m being put on the shelf. That’s why I’m trying to get a boxing license…No one says they want a big-deal fight against me. If someone wants to fight, then let’s make a big deal.
McGregor and Rousey drew the biggest pay-per-view buys in a record year for the UFC. Approximately 8,370,000 buys were sold on 13 shows in 2016, an all-time record average of 644,000 buys per show. This compares with 550,000 average per show in 2015 and 265,000 in 2014. Most shows were small but McGregor, Rousey, and UFC 200 did one million buys plus. With Rousey’s future undetermined, and McGregor taking a break, the outlook for 2017 is weak.
Hunt files a civil suit naming the UFC, Lesnar and White as defendants with the Nevada District Court. The suit says:
[The parties] affirmatively circumvented and obstructed fair competition for their own benefit…Without HUNT’s knowledge or consent, the UFC conspired and caused LESNAR, a doping fighter, to fight HUNT, a clean fighter, despite the fact that LESNAR used substances banned by the UFC, USADA and WADA.
I want the UFC to understand it’s not OK to keep doing what they’re doing. They’re allowing guys to do this. They had a chance to take all the money from this guy, because he’s a cheater, and they didn’t. What message is that sending to the boys and girls who want to be a fighter someday? The message is, ‘You just have to cheat like this and it’s OK.’ In society, if you commit a crime, you pay. Why is it different in MMA? It’s hurt the business, so it’s even worse. They need to be held accountable for this.
McGregor says he is weighing up his options regarding his dealings with UFC. His only contact with the organization has been through the news he’s received through the media saying he’s been stripped of his featherweight title.
I’m weighing up my options. Again, I expect that conversation, I expect them to fly that jet to me. Ari (Emanuel), Patrick (Whitesell), the new owners from WME-IMG, the guys that bought the UFC for $4 billion, I want to speak to them…I want to see what their plan is cause right now I don’t know what anybody’s plan is. All I know is they’re trying to type onto a keyboard and say we’re taking this belt and we’re taking that belt, we’re doing this, we’re doing that — you ain’t doing nothing without contacting me first. I’m ready for anything. I did say I was going to take a break but a Christmas break, the holidays. At least give me the holidays off. We’ll see what happens in the future.
In the post-event press conference for UFC Belfast, the UFC says it is still working to bring McGregor to Ireland to fight.
We’re working through all the different possibilities for Conor. Obviously there are a number of things up in the air at the moment. We’ve made no secret about the fact that we’d love to figure out a way to get it done. He’s gone on to such success that it’s something which I know he’s keen to try and get done as well. It’s very, very complicated to try and bring him back, particularly to Dublin. We’ll always try and figure out the best way of getting it done if we can. We’re working on it. As long as [markets continue to grow], it makes my case a lot easier every time we go and start discussing where we put these fights. The fact that we’ve got more European champions now than we’ve ever had before means that those conversations are also easier to have. It’s a complicated business putting it all together, but if we can do, there’s no limit to our ambition for these markets so we’re going to keep pushing as hard as we can.
UFC releases UFC 205: Fighting For History, featuring McGregor and Alvarez. McGregor:
I fight every week. I’m the most active fighter in all weight divisions. Of course I can take the two belts, I can defend them simultaneously.
You’re not going to see driving around in fancy cars, buying jewelry and fancy shit like that. That’s not what I’m here for. I hope I beat down this guy and go home.
UFC announces that Cormier and Jones will lead the ticket for UFC 200, a light heavyweight bout that replaces McGregor v. Diaz. Cormier and Jones were originally set to rematch at UFC 197, until Cormier had to pull out due to injury.
Joe Brolly writes an editorial in The Sunday Independent saying that following the death of Carvalho, UFC and other violent sports should be banned.
The truth is that violent sports are a rich man’s play thing, where poor men try to put each other into a coma for our amusement. These violent life-and-death sports are fun. They bring us to somewhere primitive inside us. It is why the spectators in the Colosseum gasped and cheered as the knife was thrust home. The law permits it. And it shouldn’t. Time to ban these violent pro sports. Sometimes, human beings have to be protected from themselves…Is it good enough that a young man be beaten to death in a cage for our amusement? Is it good enough that as he begins the slow process of dying, lying on the canvas like a tranquillised cow in the abattoir, Conor McGregor, our most famous sportsman, is giving high fives all around, laughing, and beating his chest? Is it?
White announces that, due to Cain Velazquez and Fabricio Werdum, pulling out of the main event fight due to injuries, the UFC’s upcoming event will not be a pay-per-view event, but instead will be shown on Fox Sports 1. The original co-main event, Hendricks against Thompson, will headline the upcoming fight card.
Rousey appears at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas as representative of UFC and talks about the women perception in sports.
I think that women fighting in the Octagon really affects everything that women see as possible for themselves. It’s not about trying to find a role that already exists that you can fit into. Now it’s trying to dream up all the different roles you can create yourself. Just like we did in fighting, we can do in every single profession out there.
Rousey talks about breaking her previous 16-second record:
I didn’t think I could break it. I had a bet going with my coach and said, ‘There’s no way anyone is going to break 16 seconds,’ and he said, ‘No, you’re totally going to break your own record.’ We bet $10,000 on it, and the very next fight I beat it by two seconds. I owe my coach $10,000 now… I screwed myself over on that one!
I have to keep in mind who would sue me before I get into any kind of confrontation with anyone. That’s why I spend all my time at the gym and never go to the club. If I went to the club and got in a confrontation with someone, that would cost me all kinds of money.
And Laila Ali’s offer of a future match:
If she wants to take me up on that, I’m around. She’s retired and has several kids. I understand why she’d think that because she has a size advantage, but if you saw my last fight it had nothing to do with size or strength at all. That’s not how I beat people. So you can’t count having a size and strength advantage as having a real advantage against me.
Pettis will fight Dos Anjos for the UFC lightweight championship in UFC 185, to take place at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Punk appears on Fox Sports 1 to discuss coming to UFC and if he feels he deserves to work for the company.
I’m not really going to say that I do deserve it. I think time will tell if I deserve it or not. Respect has to be earned, not given. I very much understand that, and I understand the perspective of a lot of the fighters. Some of them are just trying to jump on the bandwagon too, you know, like call names and pick fights. That’s the fight game, I appreciate that. I just roll with the punches. I’ll take all the positive stuff and leave all the negative stuff behind.
Punk talks to Rolling Stone magazine about his new career and his wife’s reaction to his UFC signing.
Trust me, whatever nerves I’m gonna have stepping into the Octagon will pale in comparison to the nerves I had when I had to bring this up to my wife. I was honestly terrified. I was like, ‘She’s gonna shut it down, and I’m gonna have to figure out a way to smooth it over so I can do this, because I don’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t take no for an answer, and this is something I really wanna do.’ Right off the bat she recognized that. She’s been around me long enough to know that, ever since the first day I met her, this is something I talked about doing, and she’s not somebody that’s gonna step in front of her husband trying to accomplish something that he dreamed about.
Sonnen talks to MMAMania about CM Punk’s upcoming UFC debut and teases that he knows who his first opponent will be.
Well, he is not a bottom-tier guy, I can tell you that. You will know who he is and he will be a pretty-heavy favorite to win. Punk is not going to come in as the favorite.
Punk signs with UFC fighting. He is set to make his fighting debut sometime in 2015. At 185 pounds, he will fight as a middleweight. Punk comments:
This is my new career, 100-percent. I’m going to go full steam ahead, all systems go after today, and it’s going to be fun. My professional wrestling days are over, it’s awesome to be here. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
Tate speaks about the fight with Rim Nakai, the first high-profile female fight in Japan:
I think Japan has a great history of fighters and their pride in their fights and its a big part of their culture.
Jackson talks TNA in sit-down interview with The Fight Nerd. Jackson reports he has no interest in returning to TNA wrestling and says that he does have interest in professional wrestling still and is making plans with Chavo Guerrero Jr.
As soon as I went there and saw how they ran things and what they were doing, there were no plans for me to go back
Heyman sits down with The MMA Hour to discuss Lesnar’s possible UFC return. Heyman declines rumors and claims Lesnar is currently happy with WWE.
I think he’s very, very happy right now with what we’re doing in WWE, It’s not a subject he has to think about. If the deal ends up over in WWE, if a change of circumstances happens, and if it’s a no-brainer to get him back into the cage, I’m sure it’s something he’d consider. Right now, it’s not a topic of conversation. Why would you mess up the WWE deal?
White says that despite receiving a bigger offer of $5 billion for UFC, he went with Emanuel’s lower offer of $4.2 billion, due to Emanuel’s experience.
Let me be honest with you, when we were doing this deal there were two groups that came in for more money than Ari [Emanuel]. There was one [offer] for $5 billion…There’s people who I believe add value. One of the million things I respect about the Fertitta’s, they weren’t just going to let this thing go for the money. They were going to make sure it went to somebody who could actually take it and bring it to the next level. Ari is one of these guys, he’s got huge balls, he’s very smart, and he has laid out a really great plan for the sport. The vision that Ari has for it right now, I am on board and I love it.