There’s something about a rivalry that transcends a season, playoff run or even championship. Red Sox/Yankees, Avalanche/Red Wings, Eagles/Cowboys; it’s as though you can’t tell the story of one team without the other. This is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of sports. This past weekend, at UFC 202, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz’s legacies became intertwined in the same way Ward/Gatti, Tyson/Holyfield and Ali/ Frazier did before them.
UFC 202 put a exclamation point on the ownership run of Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and reminded the world that Dana White belongs in the upper stratosphere of sports executives. Having sold the promotion to WME-IMG for an estimated $4 billion, the success of 202 was a fitting curtain call for Zuffa, LLC, the Fertitta organization headed by White that purchased the UFC in January 2001 for $2 million.
While I’m sure record breaking pay-per-views, a popular reality television series and a mainstream apparel sponsor made the UFC attractive on paper to buyers, I have a feeling it’s the intangibles that drove the price all the way $4 billion. The meteoric pop culture rise McGregor. The defiance of Diaz upsetting the Irish superstar at the peak of his popularity. The long road to redemption, and the promise of at least one more epic fight.
It’s hard to put a price on a story like that, but $4 billion sounds about right.