The biggest story in mixed martial arts this year was the sale of the league to WME-IMG for over four billion dollars. It was the largest-ever acquisition in the entire sports industry.
The first executive to depart was Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, who found the sport when it was nearly dead in North America, and left it bigger than anyone imagined. Then matchmaker Joe Silva retired. The latest departure is leading PR man Dave Sholler.
The new owners are intent on keeping UFC president Dana White; he is reportedly compensated with 9% of profits. However, other figures in the company may not be secure.
“Joe Silva and Dave Sholler are the big names to go so far, but they won’t be the last,” said Meltzer, as transcribed by Matt Connolly for Forbes. “WME-IMG wants to bring in their own people. I’ve been told that by January it will be a very, very different company.”
“A lot of people behind the scenes are worried about their future or looking elsewhere.”
Meltzer also noted that WME-IMG will be booking the matchups that bring in the most revenue. Thus fighters upset that #1 contenders do not always get the first title shot may continue to be disappointed in 2017, perhaps much more so.