UFC 200: A Milestone Moment For A Growing Business

UFC 200 Stream: Ultimate Fighting Championship’s decades-long transformation into a mainstream sports attraction culminates Saturday in Las Vegas with UFC 200 – a pay-per-view event officials are touting as one of the biggest fight cards in company history,

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and a key moment in the organization’s bid to expand to new heights.

Ultimate Fighting Championship’s decades-long transformation into a mainstream sports attraction culminates Saturday in Las Vegas with UFC 200 – a pay-per-view event officials are touting as one of the biggest fight cards in company history, and a key moment in the organization’s bid to expand to new heights.Ultimate Fighting Championship’s decades-long transformation into a mainstream sports attraction culminates Saturday in Las Vegas with UFC 200 – a pay-per-view event officials are touting as one of the biggest fight cards in company history, and a key moment in the organization’s bid to expand to new heights.

Casino moguls Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought UFC for just $2 million in 2001. Fifteen years later, the company is purportedly drawing bids from prospective buyers in excess of $4 billion. Aside from pay-per-view and ticket revenue, UFC has a television rights deal with FOX Sports worth a reported $700 million and an ever-expanding crop of fighters garnering mainstream attention.UFC 200, set to take place at the brand new, 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, features some of mixed martial arts’ biggest stars, including reigning women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and enigmatic heavyweight Brock Lesnar. It’s also a crucial opportunity for UFC – months before its long-awaited return to New York City and amid rumors of a potential sale – to show its mettle on the national stage.

“It’s certainly an important milestone. I think it shows how far the sport has come. In order to be able to do that, we need [a roster] of quality fighters, of elite fighters, of guys that are willing to take themselves to that next level and raise the sport in the process,” Kenny Florian, a former UFC fighter and co-host of “UFC Tonight” on FOX Sports 1, told FOXBusiness.com. “We’ve seen stars born in a short amount of time – Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor. You can just see it getting to that next level, year-in and year-out.”UFC 200 was expected to challenge the company’s all-time record for PPV buys. But the last-minute revelation that Jon “Bones” Jones would not compete in Saturday night’s main event against light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier due to a potential doping violation cast doubt over the event’s ability to draw a record audience.

Jones’ removal will also impact gate receipts, as Nevada requires fight promotions to offer ticket refunds to fans if a card’s main event is altered. As of Thursday, UFC 200 had yet to sell out.

While Florian predicts Jones’ absence will likely impact the event’s PPV audience by “a few hundred thousand buys,” he expects the presence of Tate, Lesnar and a highly-anticipated featherweight title match between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar will soften the blow. Lesnar, who is also under contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), is fighting for the first time since 2011.

“I still think, as far as star power, that Brock Lesnar is going to be a major draw and a major reason if we see a million PPV [buys],” Florian said. “I think the fact that it’s UFC 200, that number alone means something to the fans. And of course, we have two title fights on the line that night.”

UFC doesn’t typically publicize its pay-per-view sales figures, but company president Dana White said UFC 196, which culminated with McGregor’s shocking loss to Nate Diaz, drew an estimated 1.5 million buys in 2015. That’s close to the organization’s purported record of 1.6 million buys for UFC 100 in 2006, when Lesnar fought fan favorite Frank Mir for the heavyweight championship.

Regardless of whether UFC 200 posts record-setting numbers, this weekend’s event is a high-water mark for the promotion in terms of public exposure. Later this year, UFC will hold its first event in Madison Square Garden in more than two decades, just months after state officials voted to legalize mixed martial arts.

Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/

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UFC 200’s Mark Hunt says he’s been facing cheaters his whole career, but tones down steroid rhetoric on Lesnar

UFC 200 Stream: UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt is moving away from his suspicions about Brock Lesnar and focusing on the task at hand – to knock out the ex-champ at UFC 200 Stream.

Hunt toned down his previous rhetoric on Lesnar and steroid use, telling MMAjunkie, “I don’t care – everyone should be on a level playing field, to be honest, but it is what it is.”

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Hunt (12-10-1 MMA, 7-4-1 UFC) came out firing shortly after his co-headliner with Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) was announced for the blockbuster pay-per-view event, accusing the former wrestling champ of being “juiced to the gills” and calling an exemption from a four-month period of drug testing a “load of (expletive)” and “rubbish.” Stream UFC 200

But today during an appearance in support of the fight on July 9 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, Hunt was slightly more even-keeled about the matter, promising it wouldn’t make a difference anyway in the result of the bout.

“I’ve been fighting cheaters my whole career, so the thing is, when you’re caught cheating, that means you’ve got to look back on your life and the accomplishments you’ve done and (ask), did you really do them, or did the cheating that did it? That’s on them,” Hunt said. “That’s not on me at all. I can’t control what they’ll be doing.”

He added: “I don’t care if you’re cheating or not. I’ll punch your face in. That’s all I’ve got.”

Hunt has punched in quite a few faces since joining the UFC one month prior to Lesnar losing the heavyweight title to now ex-champ Cain Velasquez. The “Super Samoan” comes into the bout on the heels of two straight knockout wins. Lesnar, meanwhile, hasn’t competed in MMA in five years.

Still, Lesnar’s previously accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed by Hunt, who pointed out the ex-champ’s transition from pro wrestling champ to UFC champ in short order. While his exploits might have come from a period of combat sports in which anti-doping efforts weren’t as sophisticated, Hunt said Lesnar is an extremely talented athlete.

“Who does win the world title in four fights?” he asked. “You can’t really knock his accomplishments. Then again …”

Since inking a one-off deal to compete at UFC 200, Lesnar has been tested five times by USADA. The UFC has said Lesnar was given an exemption from a four-month window of testing because he couldn’t participate in the anti-doping program any sooner given the date he signed.

Lesnar hasn’t said a whole lot about Hunt in the buildup to the fight, but he made clear the fact that his comeback is about nothing other than himself.

To hear more from Hunt, check out the video above. Or for the full media scrum, click on the video below.

For more on UFC 200, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: http://mmajunkie.com/

Opinion: High Stakes in the Shadow of UFC 200

UFC 200 is big. It was big at conception, but now, a little less than a month away, it’s bigger than ever. A total of nine current or former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders will be fighting, alongside two former champions from other major organizations. Three more former title contenders and two “Ultimate Fighter” winners are also on the card. Of course, the core of the event lies in the three championship bouts it boasts, and the return of Brock Lesnar has been so widely covered that I need not say anything else about it. Yes, UFC 200 is big indeed. So large is its shadow that if you weren’t aware of the high-stakes headliner at UFC Fight Night “MacDonald vs. Thompson” on Saturday in Canada, I wouldn’t blame you.

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It’s important whenever the two top-ranked fighters in a division square off, but the significance of the Stephen Thompson-Rory MacDonald main event extends beyond their rankings. Both have a lot riding on this performance, in very different ways.

The man they call “Wonderboy” has a more traditional storyline here. After going 1-1 in his first two UFC fights in 2012, he has reeled off six straight victories with four finishes. In his last bout, he completely outclassed former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks in three and a half minutes. Prior to that, Hendricks had only lost twice in the previous five years, and both times were controversially close split decisions in championship fights against Georges St. Pierre and Robbie Lawler. The man who pushed the greatest welterweight of all-time to the brink for 25 minutes was dusted in 211 seconds. It was a stunning coming-out party for Thompson, his most spectacular win against his highest-profile opponent. UFC 200 Live Stream

Against MacDonald, Thompson will face an even more imposing challenge. For starters, MacDonald is his physical equal. It will be only the second time Thompson will fight someone in the UFC without having the height or reach advantage. The first and only other time that happened was against Matt Brown, the only man who has handed Thompson a loss. To compound the pressure, Thompson is just now cracking the elite of the division at 33 years of age. With how tight it is at the top at 170 pounds, a loss, especially a bad one, could be a major setback for his title hopes. It would place MacDonald ahead of him — though that would be a big maybe for reasons we’ll soon get into — and would also likely put Demian Maia, Carlos Condit and potentially Neil Magny ahead of or on par with him in the title-shot queue; and let’s not kid ourselves: With the way Lawler tends to fight, an immediate rematch with Tyron Woodley is a distinct possibility, win or lose at UFC 201. It would be overly dramatic to say that a loss would put the nail in the coffin of a Thompson title shot, but it would be a demoralizing setback after three and a half years worth of momentum, especially with only a few more years left in his physical prime.UFC 200 Live Streaming
MacDonald has an added incentive to win here, since this is the last fight on his current UFC contract. After losing to Lawler at UFC 189 in July in an all-time caliber fight, MacDonald has publicly stated that he feels he is worth more money than what his contract supplies. He made $59,000 for his fight against Lawler — not including his $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus — and had to sit out the remainder of the year due to the injuries he suffered from the physicality of the fight. It was a spectacular fight to watch, and MacDonald was right to try and leverage it into a more lucrative contract. Yet as of now, he and the UFC have not come to amicable terms. Should MacDonald win and choose to walk, he would be the highest-ranked fighter to test out free agency thus far, which is probably why he was matched up with one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. In this way, the stakes are not just high for MacDonald personally; he will be representing every fighter — past, present and future — who deserves to get paid more. Stream UFC 200

On the one hand, it’s easy to understand where MacDonald is coming from. While he is still young, he got a glimpse of the long-term tolls fighting takes on your body, courtesy of Lawler. Plus, with his first child due in July, financial stability is an even more immediate concern. The UFC may be the greatest competitive organization in combat sports right now, but if MacDonald can make more money elsewhere, why wouldn’t he? Leaving the UFC is particularly reasonable if MacDonald is able to secure enough sponsors to earn more than $10,000 per fight, which is how much he gets from Reebok for having 12 fights in the UFC.  Streaming UFC 200

On the other hand, you can’t exactly blame the UFC for playing a slow hand. It’s a tired sentiment at this point, but the UFC is a private business. It’s supposed to want to get as much out of the fighters as it can while paying as little as it can; that’s how profit works. It is perfectly rational in that context to wait and see how this fight concludes. If MacDonald puts on another great performance, the UFC can choose to meet his offer. If not, it can let him pack his bags and leave the promotion with a loss; and it would do so with another welterweight contender in Thompson to take his spot. Like it or not, the UFC is playing it smart. Live Streaming UFC 200

There will be a lot riding on the line at the TD Place in Ottawa, Ontario. At least, for us at home and in the stands, the stakes will only make it better entertainment.

Hailing from Kailua, Hawai’i, Eric Stinton has been contributing to Sherdog since 2014. He received his BFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University and graduate degree in Special Education from University of Hawai’i. He is an occasional columnist for Honolulu Civil Beat, and his work has also appeared in The Classical. You can find his writing at ericstinton.com. He currently lives in Seoul with his fiancé and dachshund.

Source: http://www.sherdog.com/

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UFC 200’s Frankie Edgar: Jose Aldo ‘delusional,’ trying to make up for lack of confidence

UFC 200: Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has characterized his first fight with ex-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar as pretty much a walk in the park.

Aldo won a unanimous decision over Edgar three years ago at UFC 163 to retain his belt. In the buildup to their rematch at July’s UFC 200 Stream, he’s said he doesn’t see a different result ahead.

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Edgar, though, thinks the Brazilian ex-champ is trying to pump himself up after the loss of his belt to rival champ Conor McGregor (19-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC), whose immediate future appears to hold a rematch at welterweight against Nate Diaz (19-10 MMA, 14-8 UFC).

“I think he’s a little delusional is what I think,” Edgar (20-4-1 MMA, 14-4-1 UFC) said of Aldo (25-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC), who he meets in the co-headliner of UFC 200 on July 9 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. “I think he’s trying to talk himself up. After a devastating loss like that, I know his confidence can’t be too high, and sometimes, they say, you keep telling yourself these affirmations, and it comes true.

“I think he’s trying to do that, but it doesn’t work. Talking’s not enough – you’ve got to show up and perform. We’re going to find out July 9 if he can back his talk up.”Edgar attributes his previous loss to Aldo to a lack of familiarity with the featherweight division, where he’s reeled off five straight wins to earn a title shot promise from the UFC.

“I just think I’m a totally different fighter than I was back then, and I’m going to come out and show it,” he said.

Normally humble in victory or defeat, Edgar said McGregor has taught him that being quiet is never good for your career. A campaign to fight the Irish champ proved to be unsuccessful, with McGregor first targeting the lightweight belt before breaking the box office against Diaz in a welterweight headliner at UFC 196.

Now is not the time for Edgar to be shy about what he wants in the event he beats Aldo. But even then, he’s unsure whether he’ll have to unify the title.

“I think this is for the real belt,” Edgar said. “I don’t think Conor’s coming back down (to featherweight). There’s a lot more to lose at 145 than anywhere else.”

But Edgar wouldn’t shy away from moving up to his former weight class, either, if it meant he could fight McGregor. There’s a huge incentive to do so.

“He comes with the big paycheck,” Edgar said. “He’s the most popular guy in the UFC, he’s going to talk it up more than anyone else, and that’s a fight I know I can win.”

Before he gets ahead of himself, though, he needs to beat Aldo, a fighter who hadn’t lost in 10 years prior to his setback. Edgar has maintained for years that their first meeting should have gone the other way. Now he gets to prove it.

“My long-term goal is to get that real gold at 145,” Edgar said.

Source: http://mmajunkie.com/