Eddie Hearn admits he’s ‘jealous’ of how UFC controls the sport and fighters

Eddie Hearn, DAZN
Image via @eddiehearn on Instagram (photographer not listed)

Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is reportedly jealous over the UFC’s control of the sport of MMA.

As the man behind Matchroom Boxing, Hearn has always had an appreciation for the world’s largest MMA promotion, the UFC. The Boxing promoter admitted he is envious over the promotion and its evolving brand, cultivated by UFC President Dana White.

“I’m that casual fan of MMA, I don’t know a lot about it,” Hearn said to BeIn Sports. “I could probably name you half a dozen fighters. I will watch the bigger fights, but I’m that casual fan who tunes in for the big ones.

“But I love what the UFC has done as a brand, I love their expansion into territories. I’m jealous because they control the sport and fighters in a way where the fighters are basically told who they’re going to fight.”

There are other established companies including Bellator and ONE Championship that have a large presence in international markets. However, according to reports, the UFC controls approximately 80% of the Western Hemisphere. In 2018 they solidified their position at the forefront of MMA by signing a $1.5 million broadcasting deal with ESPN. This gave the company considerable leverage with fighter contracts, marketing and matchups. So much so, it has caused some fighters to question the UFC’s monopoly of the market. The UFC is currently engaged in an ongoing antitrust lawsuit.

Despite the legal issues surrounding the UFC, Hearn envies the UFC’s position.

“In boxing it’s exactly the opposite,” Hearn continued. “Dana White has always talked about going into boxing but it’s going to be really frustrating because you don’t just phone up Canelo and say, ‘Right, you’re fighting in September. I’ll see you there.’

“You have to negotiate with managers, advisors, networks, it’s frustrating. So, I’m an MMA fan – the sport and also the business.”

The boxing promoter has admitted he might dip his toe in the MMA pond. But Hearn has no intention on diving in headfirst.

“I think so, yeah,” he said of promoting MMA. “A lot of people are asking me to do it. Whether it’s broadcasters or other organizations that would like to grow and trying to rival the UFC.

“It’s very difficult to rival the UFC, and if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it with all guns blazing,” he said. “I don’t want to go in and be No. 2. Being No. 1 in that space is very, very difficult, you know.

“Let me crack boxing first, and then we’ll see about MMA.”

Do you think Eddie Hearn should try his hand at promoting MMA?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/17/2020.