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Tag: Station Casinos

White Says ‘Union Idiots’ are Keeping MMA Out of New York

(“Minimum wage, child labor laws, eight-hour work day – that stuff’s for pussies.”)

For a couple of years now word has been percolating that the real reason MMA can’t seem to successfully find its way through the New York State Assembly might have less to do with the sport itself than with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta’s purported anti-union business practices back home in Nevada. The Spark Notes version is this: The Fertittas’ Station Casinos group is reportedly the largest non-union company in Las Vegas and has a longstanding beef with a powerful nationwide hotel and restaurant workers’ union called Unite Here, which claims Vegas’ Culinary Union Local 226 as its largest chapter. That relationship turned even more icy in 2000, when the brothers allegedly fired 850 of 1,000 union employees working at a casino they’d just acquired. Ever since then the union has done everything it can to put political pressure on the Fertittas’ various business ventures, including bringing its considerable lobbying clout to bear in opposition to the UFC operating in New York.

Anybody who’s ever seen a Martin Scorsese movie knows you can’t piss off one of the country’s biggest labor unions and expect to do business in the Empire State, right? That’d be like publishing nude photos of one of the UFC’s ring girls on your website and expecting to still get press credentials. Just wrong-headed and crazy. Anyway, UFC Prez Dana White has long stayed mum about the Fertitta’s feud with big labor, but this week White mustered his usual political savvy and velvet-glove oratory skills to break down MMA’s New York legalization efforts thusly …

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UFC Breaks All-Time PPV Record for Second-Straight Month

BJ Penn Georges St. Pierre UFC MMA UFC 94 GSP punch
(Photo courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas.)
 
For nearly two years, UFC 66 — which featured the light-heavyweight title bout between the organization’s two biggest stars, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz — was the UFC’s best-selling pay-per-view card of all time, with an estimated 1,050,000 buys. Few UFC events even came close to the lofty record, until UFC 91 in November almost surpassed it on the strength of the Couture/Lesnar superfight, bringing in a reported 1,010,000 buys. A month later, the stacked-to-death "Ultimate 2008" card smashed the old record with 1,200,000 buys. And now, if Dana White is to be believed, last Saturday’s UFC 94 show has broken the record again, with an estimated 1,300,000+ pay-per-view buys. That figure even beats the 1,250,000 buys that the Oscar De La Hoya/Manny Pacquiao boxing match pulled down in December. 

Could the UFC be a recession-proof business, with a steadily growing base of consumers? Or are the killer numbers for St. Pierre vs. Penn 2 a direct result of the event’s marketing blitz, which included the flashy new documentary series UFC Primetime? And how long will this new record last? Though there are no bonafide superfights on the schedule right now, DW reminds us that we have Mir/Lesnar, Penn/Florian, Rashad Evans’s first title defense, and Randy Couture’s next fight coming up, so there’s no shortage of great matchups to be had. Meanwhile, the UFC’s competition is thrilled to get 150,000-200,000 buys, which just illustrates the gulf in success between the top MMA outfit in the world and everybody else.

Unfortunately, not all is rosy in the financial realm of Zuffa. Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta’s Station Casinos empire announced that it would be going through a "prepackaged bankruptcy" to avoid being crushed by the $2 billion in debts it accrued when the company went private in 2007. Station has been one of the hardest-hit casino groups during the current economic downturn, which has greatly affected Las Vegas’s tourism and real estate markets.

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Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida Added to “St. Pierre vs. Penn II”

Nate Diaz UFC MMA
("We could do this shit right here, if you want." Photo courtesy of FiveOuncesofPain.)

Though it was originally scheduled for this month’s TUF 8 finale, the bout between UFC lightweights Nate Diaz and Clay Guida was postponed when Guida injured his foot in training. Now, GracieFighter is reporting that the matchup has been added to UFC 94 (January 31st, Las Vegas), in the supporting card for the Georges St. Pierre/BJ Penn superfight; it should be mentioned that the pairing hasn’t yet been added to the official lineup on UFC.com.

Diaz has won all five of his matches in the Octagon, most recently a split decision against Josh Neer at UFC Fight Night 15 in September. Though Guida’s 4-3 record in the UFC is a bit spottier, his last performance (also at UFN 15) proved that he shouldn’t be overlooked, as he used dominating wrestling to neutralize all of Mac Danzig’s weapons and score the unanimous decision win.

In other UFC news…

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UFC’s Big Announcement Revealed! Prepare Your Disappointed Face! : (

Lorenzo Fertitta UFC Dana White
(Lorenzo Fertitta, second from the right.)

UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, who made $113.8 million last year as president of Station Casinos is resigning from his position in the family business in order to work full-time to expand the UFC, develop the brand internationally, and secure more big-name sponsors. He and Dana White will now be “co-heads” of the company; Lorenzo’s brother Frank Fertitta III will become Station Casinos’ CEO while retaining his 45% ownership in the UFC.

White and L. Fertitta made the announcement to their employees today at Palace Station (a Station Casinos property), and the news broke via Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole, who acknowledged that Dana White’s “long-awaited announcement, which had many in the industry in a lather speculating about what it might be, may turn out to be ho-hum news to the sport’s hard-core fans.” Said Lorenzo Fertitta:

“The problem, if there is a problem, is that the business has gotten so successful, it’s requiring more time, focus and attention. Station Casinos is a business my family and I have built and now it’s a multi-billion dollar company. But the reality is, the UFC has gone through so much growth in the last eight years, my brother and I felt we’d be better in divide and conquer mode…

Think about this for a second: India has 350 million men between the ages of 18 and 34, and that’s our key demographic. The magnitude of these markets is staggering…The UFC is going to have a global footprint in the not-too-distant future. We’re already working on furthering our position in Brazil. This is getting so big that it demanded I spend more time with it.”

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