Lorenzo Fertitta was in London, England this week to take part in the Leaders Sport Summit 2013. The annual event is in its sixth year and is an invite-only affair which takes place at the Chelsea Football Club stadium, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Guest speakers “are selected by our expert advisory boards to share global best practice and heavyweight opinion across a range of critical issues” according to the organization’s website.
While in London, Fertitta met with Gareth Davies of the Daily Telegraph and Nick Peet, editor of Fighters Only. The results of the meeting with Peet will be an upcoming issue; below is a video of the interview Davies conducted with the UFC owner.
Most notable are the admission - never made public before - that the UFC did indeed literally model itself on the WWE in its early years, and the direction that the company will be taking over the coming years.
Fertitta wants to use the Discovery Network as his new model. Discovery produces and distributes its own content and also owns multiple delivery platforms, such as the Discovery Channel. That’s where Fertitta sees the UFC going - in 2025. Don’t ever accuse the UFC of not working towards a long-term plan.
“You're going to see a transformation in our business going historically from where we’ve been operating like an events company. We’re going to transform into a true global media company in the sense that we are really the only entity out there who produces and controls the content,” he says.
“The next step is to take control of the distribution rights. So you saw an announcement where we launched a joint venture with Televisa in Mexico and Latin America on a 24-hour network.”
“Moving to 2025 I want to be more like the Discovery communications. A global media company, create our own content, by selling sponsorships and commercials, and we further that by controlling the distribution point of actually owning the networks or having joint ventures, owing a portion of the network.”
Fertitta likens fight events to nature shows such as the ones produced by Discovery; everybody understands nature, everybody understands fighting. To Fertitta’s mind the two are comparable and thus Discovery’s model can be emulated.