After months of speculation, the UFC has been sold to WME-IMG for $4 billion, with Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta retaining a small minority stake in the company and Dana White continuing to run day-to-day operations. The new ownership group involves numerous investors, including private equity firms Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital.
Jon Anik doesn’t expect major changes – at least not in the short-term.
“I think for awhile it’ll be business as usual,” the FOX Sports UFC commentator said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The show must go on. We’re doing 42 of these things a year, so I don’t think you’ll see wholesale changes yet. I think you’re going to see a lot of the executives are going to be in place, and as long as UFC president Dana White stays on board – and that is the expectation – I don’t think you’re going to see too many major changes yet. But as you guys know, you don’t spend $4 billion on something to not make changes. I got to imagine they’re going to be bringing in a lot of their own people. Hopefully not new play-by-play guys anytime soon, but I think we’re all on red alert a little bit and just sort of waiting to see how this shakes out.”
The sale comes right on the heels of UFC 200, which struggled to overcome the absence of Jon Jones. Daniel Cormier beat Anderson Silva by unanimous decision but was booed by a heavy WWE crowd on hand to see Brock Lesnar.
“It seemed like there were a lot of WWE fans in there,” Anik said. “It wasn’t the most knowledgable UFC crowd that I’ve been a part of. Actually, it was one of the least knowledgable crowds overall. As far as the fight is concerned, imagine (what Cormier felt) emotionally. He waited 18 months for this rematch with Jon Jones, he finds out a few days before that Jones is out and the guy who steps in is probably the greatest striker of all-time. So if you’re Daniel Cormier, Olympic wrestler, how do you beat that guy? Do you stand on the napkin in the center of the octagon and trade with him? Or do you take him down as a former heavyweight and lean on the former middleweight champion? That’s exactly what you do.
“I think a lot of fans just don’t have an appreciation for what Daniel did on the ground – the little movements that keep your weight heavy and keep Anderson planted,” Anik continued. “I thought Silva did a good job defensively of evading a lot of those shots, but this is the recipe for victory for Daniel Cormier. And the thing is, he’s the light-heavyweight champion. He has to preserve that. He had to get through this spot, make sure his hand was raised by whatever means necessary. So I understand there’s a lot of criticism being levied at DC. I think a lot of it has fallen on deaf ears, certainly with the avid UFC fans who know what they actually saw.”
As for Jones, who could face a two-year suspension, the future is anything but certain.
“I would hate to think that he would never fight in the UFC again, but I think you have to think that’s a distinct possibility at this point in time,” Anik said. “They have given him so many chances to right the ship. Again, new ownership could change things, but . . . just the carelessness he has approached certain situations with his amazing. It’s untold millions that he’s blown. If he’s suspended two years, this supplement that he ingested could have been a $15 million swallow. It’s just amazing that he would – as the greatest mixed martial artist that I have ever seen – potentially throw it all away. It’s really disappointing. I hope to see him fight again, but I’m not holding out hope.”