Is the UFC for Sale Heading into the Organization’s Biggest Events?
Less than two months before UFC 200 will take place at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, MMA’s most successful promotion company may be in the process of being sold by Zuffa LLC, which was founded by Station Casinos executives Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta back in 2001.
Vegas-based Zuffa bought the UFC in 2001 for $2 million, and the organization is now reportedly valued somewhere between $3.5 and $4 billion. Four different groups have been rumored to have interest in purchasing the UFC, led by the Dalian Wanda Group behind chairman Wang Jianlin, the richest man in China.
UFC president Dana White has denied the rumors leading up to UFC 198 this Saturday in Brazil, with the heavyweight title on the line between champion Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) and No. 2 contender Stipe Miocic (14-2).
Werdum is a consensus -155 favorite (bet $155 to win $100) against Miocic, who is a +135 underdog (bet $100 to win $135). Former champ and No. 1 contender Cain Velasquez was expected to face Werdum in a rematch of their title fight at UFC 188, but injuries prevented that from happening. Velasquez is now scheduled to take on No. 7 contender Travis Browne at UFC 200.
The next big event will happen at The Forum in Inglewood, California on June 4 with two championship bouts at UFC 199.
In the main event, middleweight champ Luke Rockhold (15-2) will meet former title holder Chris Weidman (13-1) in a rematch of their fight at UFC 194 last Dec. 12. Rockhold is listed as a -210 favorite versus Weidman (+180) after scoring a fourth-round TKO in the first meeting.
Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz (21-1) will also battle bitter rival Urijah Faber (33-8) in the co-main event, which will be the third matchup between the two 135-pounders. They split two previous meetings in the WEC, with Cruz a massive -650 favorite against Faber (+475) this time.
UFC 200 will happen on July 9 and feature a rematch between interim light heavyweight champ Jon Jones (22-1) and current title holder Daniel Cormier (17-1), who won the belt after Jones was forced to give it up in April of 2015 following a highly-publicized hit-and-run incident.
The two were expected to square off at UFC 197 on April 23 of this year, but a foot injury suffered by Cormier prevented that from happening. Jones is a -300 favorite versus Cormier (+250) and beat him by unanimous decision at UFC 182 in the first meeting.
Featherweight champ Conor McGregor (19-3) was supposed to headline UFC 200 against Nate Diaz (19-10) in a rematch of their welterweight matchup at UFC 196 on March 5. However, McGregor ended up getting pulled from the fight because he was not willing to fulfill his media obligations with the UFC to promote it.
McGregor suffered his first loss in the UFC to Diaz via second-round rear-naked choke submission a little less than four months after women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey (12-1) was defeated for the first time by Holly Holm (10-1) at UFC 193 last Nov. 15. Those two defeats for the organization’s biggest draws have enabled others to step up and enter the spotlight.
Since then, Holm lost the title belt to Miesha Tate (18-5) at UFC 196. With Rousey still not ready to return to the Octagon, Tate has been matched up with Amanda Nunes (12-4) in a title bout at UFC 200. Tate is a -255 favorite versus Nunes (+215), and Rousey is expected to fight the winner later this year.