Dear Ari Emanuel,
Thanks for taking a look at this letter. Feel free to share it with the other execs at WME-IMG, Silver Lake, KKR, and MSD. I realize that you have a ton on your plate, so I’m going to make this short and sweet.
Please, don’t fuck up the UFC. Seriously. It’s already great and so much better than every other MMA promotion out there. As a television product and business, it does not need a serious overhaul.
In 2015, the UFC had its most successful year ever; making roughly $160 million in profit. It’s likely that 2016 will eclipse last year’s record numbers. Clearly, the company is white hot and more popular than ever. Reinventing the company would be a colossal blunder.
No doubt, there is room to grow the business through better marketing, new television deals, international expansion and minor tweaks to the television product. This sort of change would be hard to decipher for the average fan, but could add to your bottom line. Some other welcome changes could include: running fewer shows, shortening the length of events, supporting minor rule modifications, becoming more media friendly, and some aesthetic fine tuning. Again, you don’t have to keep a totally pat hand. Some change is good and every company must evolve in order to survive.
The UFC should still feel unpredictable, a bit rebellious even. Making the shows too commercial and mainstream would take away from what makes the UFC, at its core, so great. It’s a different, violent, exciting sport; where literally anything can happen. Don’t let your big money investors convince you otherwise. You did purchase a cagefighting company after all.
You may feel the urge to promote freak show fights, cave to fighters’ demands, or blow up the current pay-per-view model. In these instances, remember to reign yourself in. You will be working with Dana White, a guy who knows the MMA business better than anyone on Earth. He’s good at this stuff.
Bottom line, White and his crew are doing a hell of a job. They are creating big stars, bringing in great TV ratings, promoting entertaining events, signing the best fighters in the world, and most importantly they are making cold hard cash. Please, do your best not to interfere with this formula. I realize that it may be tempting, but White’s vision and leadership have been proven quite successful. He will continue to produce a fun, profitable product as long as the current brand is not dramatically tampered with.
Don’t mess up a good thing.
P.S. The UFC is awesome.