Das ist so crazy was da gerade passiert. Und wirft leider auch kein gutes Licht auf Dana und Fertitta. Dave Meltzer schreibt im neuen Observer dazu und das sollte man sich wirklich mal durchlesen:
The office morale at UFC has been bad since the announcement of the sale to WME IMG, and had gotten even worse in recent months because of the expectation of massive layoffs in conjunction with cost cutting measures that had already come into play.
Now, after significant layoffs on 10/18 and 10/19, things are a lot worse. Key people who built this sport were let go, most with no warning. At about 10 a.m., people came into the Las Vegas offices and informed some of the top executives they were being let go, one-by-one. It was an ominous feeling for people, waiting to see if they would be tapped on the shoulder and handed a few boxes, to take your belongings and be escorted out the doors of the place you worked for years, in some cases, more than a decade from before television and when UFC and MMA were a tiny sport struggling to have a fan base, and shunned by the media which saw it as not even a sport, but a barbaric spectacle playing to blood-thirsty patrons.
Key people who fought that notion, and in many cases were key people in getting it accepted both domestically and overseas, fighting all the fights, to make UFC the fastest growing sports organization in the world, able to be sold for $4 billion, an all-time sports record, and on the verge of a year of selling more PPV buys than any promotion in history has, were among the first let go.
One-by-one, people were informed through lunch. Then there was a break. At 1 p.m., they started back again. But even the ones who were spared had a lot of resentment because there were good people let go, and more, everyone was told at the time of the sale that they had nothing to worry about and they’d all be working in the Las Vegas office a year from now and for years to come.
At first there were questions regarding why a company in the middle of its best year ever was cutting costs so heavily, until the details of the sale and the high debt and interest rate got around and the realization hit.
One person noted that even though they had seen history of the company outright lying to the media, usually to quell rumors that had gotten out and ended up being true, those who worked there justified that as part of doing business. To the employees, that was never an issue. When Dana White said something internally, it happened, and there was no credibility issue. By and large, morale was great as the company continued to make deals and grow, and was in the middle of a boom period that comes when you get two larger than life superstars and major draws at the same time.
Even the majority who remain know they were misled by the people in charge, first about the sale, and then about how the sale wouldn’t impact them in any meaningful way.
When the various stories about sale negotiations broke, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta denied them directly to employees, to the point many believed that the reports were erroneous, or at worst, only a small percentage of the company was being sold, and not a majority interest.
Similarly, when the sale went through, people were told that nothing would change, but by that point, everyone knows with a major sale, things are going to change. Upper management in particular was concerned, and those were the people who helped build the company, knowing that they were hired by White and Fertitta and that WME IMG would likely want its own people in many of the top positions.
Then rumors started flying of massive cuts on certain dates, but those dates would come and go, and the rumors would be that it wasn’t that the cuts weren’t happening, but the date was delayed, basically prolonging the anxiety and insecurity. All during this period, it was said that nobody, not even the biggest names were safe, and that, in fact, the biggest names may have been in the most danger of being let go, which turned out to be the case.
On 10/18 and 10/19, the ax fell, with reports of layoffs of 60 to 80 employees from the total office staff of about 400 around the world.
The three most high profile layoffs were Garry Cook, Tom Wright and Marshall Zelaznik.
Cook was the Chief Global Brand Officer and head of International Business Development, who was often talked about as the No. 3 guy in the company behind White and Fertitta for the last few years. Cook was a well- known and controversial figure in the U.K. as the CEO of the Manchester City Football Club and was a huge name hire. Many thought he would end up as the guy running the company.
Wright was the Executive Vice President and General Manager for UFC Operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He came in 2010. Wright was a key part of promoting two of the biggest shows in company history.
The first was UFC 129, on April 30, 2011, which sold out Rogers Centre in Toronto with 55,724 fans, for the Georges St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields welterweight title fight. Toronto, and Ontario as a whole, had been MMA-starved because the local athletic commission had banned the sport and even as Toronto fans flocked to Montreal for record setting live events, refused to budge. The first event in Toronto was so big that executives at Rogers Centre told me after the first weekend that tickets went on sale, that based on the volume of calls and numbers turned away after selling out, that they said they would have sold 105,000 tickets the first weekend alone had their been that space. When Dana White agreed to go to Rogers Centre instead of the arena-sized Air Canada Centre. The idea was to set up Rogers Center for 30,000 people at first, which showed just how far off original company estimates of the drawing power of this show were.
Wright, who had major sports credibility in the country as the former commissioner of the Canadian Football League, was able to cut through all the political red tape, get the sport legalized in Ontario as well as changed the criminal code as far as combat sports nationally in Canada, which legalized the sport throughout the country.
His office was also key in getting the ban on cage fighting in the state of Victoria, Australia, overturned, yet another nasty political fight. This led to UFC 193, the debut in Melbourne on November 15, 2015, where Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey in what was by far the single most-talked about MMA fight ever in mainstream culture. While not selling out Etihad Stadium, a show headlined by two women’s fights drew 56,214 fans, breaking the Toronto attendance record, although not the gate record. The show also did an estimated 1,090,000 buys on PPV.
There had been internal criticism of Wright because Canada had declined so greatly since Georges St-Pierre carried the country to being the per capita hottest market through the end of 2013. The popularity, which preceded Wright, was all built around St-Pierre, and Rory MacDonald, his heir apparent, wasn’t able to follow in his footsteps. At the same time, it’s hard to blame an executive for Canada or Australia not to produce a dominant long-time world champion type who can bring the business up several levels in that country.
Zelaznik was the company’s Chief Content Officer, the key person behind the launch of Fight Pass. He had been linked to UFC when he was the Vice President of Programming for inDemand, the PPV channel linked to U.S. cable companies, and was a major hire, at first to help launch the brand in the U.K., back in 2006.
Cook and Zelaznik both started with the company by heading up European operations, and then were brought to Las Vegas where they were top of the food chain executives.
Other top names who were let go were Ken Berger, who ran the company’s office in Asia and Jamie Pollock, the Senior Vice President of Global Content, who had been with the company for 12 years, and was a key figure in brokering a number of international television deals. Shanda Maloney, the head of social media, who even her critics would admit had done a great job in her field, was also let go. Also let go were Ed Muncey, the Senior Vice President of Technology and Brad Smuckler, the Controller.
The departments to be hit the worst were the ones where WME IMG already had people in place doing similar jobs who could just add UFC to their responsibilities. Dave Sholler, who headed public relations, just last week made a deal to leave for a position with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Canadian office out of Toronto that Wright headed was almost gutted, with 80 percent of the office being let go.
The cuts are part of cost saving measures as the company needs in the range of $130 to $140 million in profits annually just to cover the interest on the current debt. The executives let go were among the highest paid employees in the company, most notably Cook.
Ariel Helwani reported that half the UFC Asia office was let go. But cuts were across the board, both in Las Vegas and in the international offices in Toronto, London, Sao Paulo and Singapore.
DummerZufall (21:14): Ich fürchte Sex | WELCOME TO TWO THOUSAND AND CHAEL!
OHHHH YEAH! - R.I.P. "Macho Man"!! | Thank you, Eddie!