(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.”
“I think the potential for the UFC within the next five years globally is that it is going to be bigger than the NFL, bigger than Major League Baseball…The Internet may not consider this huge news, but what the people on the Internet think is huge and what I think is huge are two different things. But you know what? I think I have a pretty good track record. I think this is maybe the biggest day in UFC history. I’m so excited, I can’t begin to explain it to you. This is an historic day for me and this company.”
Well, he was right about the announcement coming out of left field. While the most prevalent theories about Dana White’s much-hyped “big news” involved the Fertittas cashing out of their investment and selling the UFC, the real story is pretty much the exact opposite — Lorenzo is leaving a nine-figure gig to devote more of himself to the cause. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it. Sure, the fans won’t give a crap, but at least we’ll know to take Dana’s excitement with a grain of salt from now on. Dude gets jazzed up about the most random shit…