Dana White was profiled Thursday night on Forbes Sports Money on the YES Network. If you didn't stay up to watch it, you missed an interesting nugget.
"There's a reason there's been resistance, and it really has nothing to do with mixed martial arts, to be honest with you," White said.
Mike Ozanian then asked what that reason is, and White responded, "The union. The culinary union. Of all people to try to keep us from coming to New York, the culinary union."
Huh? A culinary union?
"What they want is my partners, the Fertitta brothers, have the largest non-union gaming company in the United States," White said.
Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, majority owners of UFC's parent company Zuffa LLC, also own the Station Casinos, a group of 18 hotel and casino resorts in Las Vegas and elsewhere in Nevada.
"The unions in New York have virtually nothing to do with the unions in Nevada," said Bob Reilly, a New York state Assemblyman and the most vocal opponent of MMA's legalization.
The Culinary Union Local 226 in Nevada has been focused on getting the estimated 14,000 Station Casinos employees unionized. On Feb. 17, 22 members of the Culinary Union were arrested for blocking an entrance to Palace Station, a hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
This issue is a tricky thing, and here's a solid explainer of all its intricacies.
Invariably, the discussion of legalizing MMA in New York (beyond the union issue) comes up, especially on a network rooted in New York and the tri-state area. Both sides of the issue rarely change. The UFC touts its safety record (no deaths in the octagon) and its economic impact (estimated $11 million for New York State). "When we roll into town, every local business in town can't wait for the UFC to come back," White said.
Opponents bring up the violent aspect (while rarely mentioning the violence of boxing, hockey or football beyond a casual remark).
"My overriding opposition is based on the fact that I believe it's a violent sport, and violence begets violence," Reilly said. "In our state legislature, we are trying to eradicate violence, domestic violence, gun violence in the inner city, even things like bulying on the Internet and bullying in the schools."
Forbes assigned a $1.3-1.7 billion value for the UFC brand, along with $300 million in revenue and $65 million on operating income. When asked about ever going public with the UFC, White said he doesn't think that would happen. "I like where we're at now, we make all the decisions," he said.
As for the rest of the segment, you didn't miss much, assuming you're a mixed martial arts fan, that is. If this was your first foray in MMA, you saw a toned-down UFC president repeating much of what's been said and reported over the past months.
- The Strikeforce deal was a good one for Zuffa.
- "Fighting is in our DNA."
- "We're bigger than boxing and wrestling combined."
Same old storylines for MMA fans, including the infamous John McCain "human cockfighting" quote. See the YES television schedule for future airings.