The Announcement: Lorenzo Fertitta Joins Dana White At UFC Helm

This actually is a pretty big announcement, and it flies completely in the face of the idea that there was a sale, which is what I believed.  Lorenzo Fertitta is resigning from station casino in order to run the UFC with Dana, and he will be primarily focused on international expansion.  Kevin Iole has the write-up here:

"Everyone has doubts, right? Well, when you see Lorenzo Fertitta, a guy who was the No. 2-highest paid casino executive in Las Vegas, quit that job to come to work full-time for the UFC, that will be pretty strong evidence that they’ve made the correct move. "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."

UPDATE BY KID NATE:

There's a lot more in the article, first off Fertitta addresses the obvious and immediate point of speculation -- is this bad news for Dana?

Fertitta and his older brother, Frank III, are the primary owners of the UFC. But until now Lorenzo Fertitta has devoted more than three-quarters of his time to running the family business as president of the burgeoning casino company.

But Fertitta, who according to In Business Las Vegas magazine was the second-highest paid casino executive in Las Vegas in 2007 with a salary of $113.8 million, said the growth of the UFC demanded a more significant involvement.

Fertitta insisted the move was no indictment of White, his long-time friend and next-door neighbor, but rather one which is desperately needed because of the significant growth the company is undergoing.

Two things jump out of that -- first its obviously bad news for Dana. The PRIDE acquisition was a fiasco and so far the UK expansion has been as well. Second, Lorenzo will be taking a HUGE paycut -- no way he's going to bring down $113.8 million in annual salary off Zuffa.

Here's more on what Lorenzo will be focusing on, going global:

Fertitta says the UFC plans to expand outside of the U.S. and U.K. and into mainland Europe, with plans to go to Italy, France and Spain, in addition to Germany. He said he foresees expansion into the Baltic countries, including Russia, and was recently in Dubai working on establishing a foothold for the UFC there.

Asia also is in the plans, he said, citing China, South Korea, Japan and India as prime markets for the company.

“Think about this for a second: India has 350 million men between the ages of 18 and 34, and that’s our key demographic,” Fertitta said. “The magnitude of these markets is staggering. Dana has been doing a phenomenal job with this company, and I’ve been doing what I could given my responsibilities (at Station Casinos).

“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.”

Dana also denies this means he's being demoted:

White said he understands that some may see Fertitta’s move as a sign of the owners’ unhappiness with him or as an indication that the company is in peril.

He laughed at the thought and said he believes the UFC is about to explode.

“If they think that, beautiful, because it’s better for us,” White said. “There just isn’t enough time in the day for me to do everything that needs to be done. Lorenzo’s wife said to me the other day, ‘The two of you together is scary.’ I think what we’re going to be able to do now is amazing."

UPDATE BY KID NATE:

The consensus in the comments is that I'm way off base about this being bad for Dana. Entirely possible, but here's what Adam Swift has to say about it:

The move will be seen by many in the industry as confirmation of rumors that have circulated over the past year that the Fertittas were growing less happy with Dana White's stewardship of the UFC and were concerned about his ability to take the company to the next level. These rumors have been a prominent component of persistent rumors that the Fertittas were interested in selling the company or even in replacing White.

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