With negotiations nearing for a new television deal, UFC President Dana White has taken one network out of the running, Showtime.
The UFC and Showtime worked together in 2017 for the superfight between UFC star, Conor McGregor and Showtime’s featured boxer, Floyd Mayweather, which took place last August at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
According to a press release from Showtime in December, the pay-per-view generated generated 4.3 million buys in North America – officially making it the second largest pay-per-view event of all time behind Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, which set the North American pay-per-view mark at 4.6 million buys in 2015.
Following the successful experiment in boxing, White with the backing of WME-IMG (UFC’s parent company) is now planning to enter the boxing market and stage events in 2018.
White believes that Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza is downplaying the Mayweather-McGregor numbers because it was a UFC fighter who helped set a record number. Or maybe he believes they are undercutting the obligation of what needs to be paid to his side.
He believes the fight certainly surpassed the Mayweather-Pacquiao buy rates, a crossbranded partnership between Showtime and HBO.
“Think about this, and I don’t give a sh*t about Showtime’s f***ing, full of sh*t press release that they put out – it’s the biggest fight ever, ever in combat sports history. The thing did over 6.7 million buys [worldwide] and if the service didn’t drop, we would have gotten closer to 7 million. It was the biggest event ever. It was the biggest boxing event ever without a boxer, there was only one boxer in that fight,” White told Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.
Showtime’s press release was specifically geared towards the buy figures in North America.
“Which I still question,” said White.
“The way that they handled that press release and what they did – I didn’t trust them before and now I just despise those f***ing guys. The Showtime guys, I will never work with them again – ever.”