Earlier this year, the UFC was sold for a whopping $4 billion – quite an increase from the $2 million that Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought it for in the year 2000. The promotion was purchased by American talent agency WME-IMG.
Since it purchased the UFC, WME-IMG has made several major moves. Some of these moves, such as its choice to sell small stakes of the promotion to celebrities like Ben Affleck, Conan O’Brien and The Weeknd, were quite exciting. Others, like its choice to enact a mass layoff of UFC staff, have been rather disheartening.
These layoffs began on Monday, when employees of UFC offices in Asia, Europe, Brazil and Latin America were let go. The unfortunate trend continued on Tuesday, when notable executives Garry Cook and Marshall Zelaznik were sent packing, and the UFC’s social media director Shanda Maloney also received her walking papers.
“This has been a magnificent experience with one of the greatest sports enterprises of the modern day,” Cook said in a statement after his layoff. “I am thankful and proud to have played a part in their brand story working with Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White, Lawrence Epstein and all the talented individuals at the UFC.”
“With the new leadership from WME-IMG the next era of continuing to redefine the global sports landscape is very exciting,” he added. “I wish them well delivering on their vision for success.”
The latest UFC staff layoffs occured in the company’s Toronto office on Wednesday, where something in the area of 80% of staff were let go. Among those let go was Tom Wright, UFC Executive Vice President and General Manager for Operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Wright, who is the former commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL), was largely responsible for the legalization of MMA in the Canadian province of Ontario. He also played a role in the lifting of the cage ban in Victoria, British Columbia.
These layoffs, which are expected to reduce the UFC’s workforce by as many as 80 employees by the time week is out, are undeniably unfortunate. They are, however, somewhat par for the course when a company of the UFC’s size changes hands.
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