02-12-2008, 12:39 PM
Status: Favorite Fighter: Palma
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Crawled under a rock
| | 'Don't let the UFCs Lawsuit Fool You'
The headline says all you need to know, if you’ve followed the UFC very closely. Or does it? |
“Vegas Owners Sue Their Own Martial Arts Property”
That’s what appeared in the Las Vegas Sun the other day. The story written by Jeff German goes on to explain that the Fertittas brothers, principal owners of Zuffa LLC, which in turn owns the UFC, have sued Dream Stage Entertainment, the owners (or rather former owners) of PRIDE, who they bought out last year.
I haven’t had a chance to read the 29-page lawsuit, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Bear with me. This is first-glance stuff. But it sounds pretty shady so far.
One of the things the Fertittas are asserting is that Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the president of PRIDE, ultimately refused to cooperate with background checks that were being done by the UFC as part of this transaction. Allegedly there is a connection between Sakakibara and the Japanese Yakuza, which would be roughly analogous to the Cosa Nostra here in America.
The Sun story reads, “That refusal has the potential to hurt the Fertittas in the eyes of gaming regulators.” No shit, sherlock. I’ve known for a long time that the association was going to hurt them. And well it SHOULD hurt them, lawsuit or no lawsuit. How many different sources did they have to hear from that there was something suspicious about PRIDE’s principals? I know of five or six news outlets that pointed this out; leading the pack here in the U.S. was my friend Zach Arnold of FightOpinion.com.
Simple question - if there was a cloud of suspicion, and they could not claim to be ignorant of it, why did they do the deal? I mean, they DID the deal, didn’t they? They announced it like a grand triumph. Made special plans. Imported fighters who were holdovers from the PRIDE organization. They weren’t exactly waiting on anything or anybody.
So now why are we hearing about “post-closing” actions that are relevant to this purchase, and how are the UFC people victims? Are you trying to tell me they hired a private investigator to conduct background checks, and didn’t have them but closed a deal anyway? Whose fault is that?
Did they figure that Fuji TV (in Japan) pulled the plug on these guys out of nowhere just because they were in a bad mood that day?
Let’s address something that is much more to the point. All of these allegations and rumors about PRIDE’s people, including those contained in stories by the Japanese magazine Shuukan Gendai, had surfaced BEFORE the last PRIDE show that was held in Las Vegas, for which, naturally, the organization had to be licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which works hand-in-hand with the Gaming Commission.
So I ask - if there was indeed any indication that there might be some veracity to these reports, and considering that PRIDE was a competitor at the time, doing business in the UFC’s own backyard, why didn’t Lorenzo or Frank or Dana speak up THEN? For a group of guys who have never concealed their indignation when anyone else enters the MMA marketplace; who have SUED people just for coming into the MMA marketplace, that would seem not only logical, but almost compulsory. Wouldn’t it?
I mean, I know they don’t want to publicly acknowledge that other MMA websites exist aside from their own, but I know the guys in charge of the UFC are literate, and most of their employees must have taken at least some remedial reading classes. Surely there is SOMEONE in that office who possesses basic phonetic skills, and as an added bonus, is crafty enough to log onto the internet and type something into Google?
So I ask again - why the strange silence?
Well I’ll tell you why (and now I feel like the Al Pacino character in “And Justice For All”):
THEY WERE ABOUT TO BECOME PART OF THAT WHOLE UGLY MESS - YAKUZA OR NOT.
You see, in February of last year, when PRIDE was in Las Vegas for their show, the Fertittas were in the process of making an end run around another suitor to make a bid on the PRIDE outfit before it was too late. And they didn’t give a flying f**k about background checks or anything else at the time.
In their bloodlust to scoop up all the talent available from PRIDE and drive any straggling competitors out of the business, the UFC could not wait to bring Sakakibara and his colleagues into the fold, because as far as the UFC knew, the Japanese were about to field an offer from gaming entrepreneur Ed Fishman (of Player’s Club fame) who headed up “PRIDE USA” for Sakakibara and promoted the Las Vegas event for him. Fishman’s plan included the integration of MMA with his numerous casino contacts, some of which were in Macau, which is ready to bust wide open as the Las Vegas of the Far East. The UFC may have been shut out of that territory - and a lucrative market of Asians - forever.
Fishman was ready to offer big money, and had casino backing lined up. But because he was sensitive to his established relationships in the gaming and entertainment communities, he was going to insist in background checks of the PRIDE people BEFORE the deal was consummated, just to make sure he wasn’t going to uncover the residue of “silent partners” after the fact. I know that, because he told me beforehand.
The PRIDE guys were obviously having none of that.
So they took the path of least resistance, which was Zuffa, who apparently didn’t care all that much at the time. But maybe “silent partners” are what Lorenzo and Frank and Dana have got right now. And somebody out there made some noise loud enough for the gaming regulators to hear. It would indeed be embarrassing if the UFC’s new partners were in the Nevada Black Book, wouldn’t it?
So the “damage control” switch got turned on at the Green Valley Ranch or wherever.
But now that they have their hooks into all the former PRIDE fighters, I’ll bet you they want the best of both worlds.
It may not be that easy. If you want to, in effect, roll back the clock to the way things are before, you’re going to have to annul the deal and all the conditions pursuant to it. Perhaps it’s like hitting the “System Restore” button in Windows. And maybe that means no Dan Henderson, no Wanderlei Silva, no Minotauro Nogueira, no nothing out of that deal. Or nothing that can stick.
Alright, let me go read this thing now. I’m told by somebody on the “inside” that it’s worth a few belly laughs.
This is different point of view. I like it.
The will to win is not as great as the will to prepare to win."
"...the way of the future...the way of the future...the way of the future...the way of the future..."
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