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<ul><li><p>Wrestling Observer Newsletter PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 </p><p>ISSN10839593 April 25, 2016 </p><p>UFC ON FOX POLL RESULTS </p><p>Thumbs up 50 (57.5%) </p><p>Thumbs down 0 (00.0%) </p><p>In the middle 37 (42.5%) </p><p>BEST MATCH POLL </p><p>Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres 51 </p><p>Raquel Pennington vs. Bethe Correia 23 </p><p>WORST MATCH POLL </p><p>Cezar Ferreira vs. Owale Bamgbose 16 </p><p>Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 4/19. </p><p>Ive decided to retire young. </p><p>Thanks for the cheese </p><p>Catch yas later. </p><p>Conor McGregor on Twitter on 4/19 </p><p>In just three sentences, the entire world of MMA may have changed. </p></li><li><p>UFC was planning its biggest set of shows in history, built around a Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz fight, which was expected to be the biggest money event in company history. </p><p>Then McGregor sent out a tweet, which led to hysteria and speculation on what exactly it meant. And at this point, nobody still really knows, deep down, what it meant. </p><p>After hours of silence from UFC, Dana White was on ESPN SportsCenter with an announcement, stating that McGregor had been pulled off the UFC 200 card because he had refused to break training in Iceland to come to Las Vegas for a press conference. </p><p>Whites words only invited more speculation, claiming, Obviously we still have a good relationship with Conor. I respect Conor as a fighter and I like him as a person. But you cant decide not to show up to these things. You have to do it. </p><p>White, when asked if McGregor had retired, said only McGregor knows for sure. </p><p>The next day, White got into more detail on the Colin Cowherd show with an explanation that seemed to make little sense as the real reason McGregor isnt fighting on UFC 200. </p><p>White said that McGregor decided that he didnt want to come to the U.S. this week where UFC had planned for him to shoot a television commercial for UFC 200, as well as do press conferences in Las Vegas, Stockton and New York. </p><p>He said, `I dont want to do it. I dont want to come. I said, `You have to come. You cant not show up to promote your fight. You cant do it. Thats where we ended up. </p><p>White brought up UFC 137, when he pulled Nick Diaz from a title fight with Georges St-Pierre after Diaz had missed two press dates. The irony is that Diaz ended up on the card anyway, just against B.J. Penn. </p><p>White also claimed to still have a great relationship with McGregor, and insisted that none of this is about money, and said that if McGregor was to call him up, the UFC 200 main event could still happen. </p><p>The idea that everything is smooth as silk between the sides is almost laughable when you consider UFC would be down, very conservatively, about $40 million if McGregor isnt fighting and McGregor would also be out millions of dollars for what would likely be his biggest payday ever. </p><p>No, our relationship isnt damaged at all, said White. </p><p>He was careful to not say anything negative about McGregor, which is not Whites usual M.O. The closest thing he came to saying is that, Its not like Im asking Conor to do something none of the other fighters are doing and its not like its three weeks before the fight. Its three </p></li><li><p>months (actually 11 weeks). Conor, for whatever reason, he freaked out on this. Hes a reasonable guy. Hes a smart guy. This is weird. </p><p>The last sentence is the only one that one could take at face value. </p><p>Its not a money issue, thats false, said White about a situation that it would be almost impossible to believe is not a money issue. Thats the problem with the Internet. Never ever was this about money. Conor makes a lot of money and is very happy with the money he makes. Conor has never come back after agreeing on a deal and asked for more money. </p><p>White said that he didnt believe McGregor was retiring, and he did believe McGregor would fight again with the UFC within the next year. But he said that McGregor does need to clear up what hes saying, because if he is publicly saying that he is retired, then the 7/9 fight with Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 would go from being for the interim featherweight title to being for the featherweight title, and McGregor would be stripped as champion. </p><p>Even though both sides have always claimed a great relationship, there were reports from people close to McGregor for some time who noted his long-term goal was to be a co-promoter on shows. It was pointed out that on 4/9, Manny Pacquiao earned a guaranteed $20 million for his main event with Timothy Bradley which is currently estimated at doing between 400,000 and 500,000 buys, a fraction of what UFC 200 will bring (although promoter Bob Arum went into the fight expecting 700,000 to 800,000, based on the first fight between the two doing the former and the second fight doing the latter). There are many business model differences that make this kind of a comparison misleading, but in the end, a top level boxer does earn a greater percentage of the revenue that they bring to an event than an MMA fighter. </p><p>It never got combative, White said. I was talking to his manager. They are asking, `Lets move all this to May. I said, `You cant move it. All this stuff is in motion. </p><p>The problem is you have to be here to promote the fight and you have to shoot this commercial, he said. Were spending $10 million in promotions and all that money is in motion. You cant not do this no matter how big you are. </p><p>McGregor, 27, more than anyone, knows the value of being at press conferences and promoting fights. But it goes without saying nobody accepted either version as anything close to what the real story is. Whatever happened, his refusal to come to Las Vegas for a press conference may have bene the end result, but couldnt possibly be the main issue in the complete story. </p><p>The key is that things are clearly contentious or this would have been settled before it went public, but both sides have been very careful not to make it personal. Both sides have also completely avoided whatever the real story, whether its McGregor wanting to co-promote, or wanting a higher flat free purse (hes made it clear he doesnt get his money on pay-per-view points but gets one massive check shortly after the fight) than they were willing to guarantee. </p></li><li><p>Another key to the story is that when White went on SportsCenter, he didnt announce a new fight. The UFCs m.o. in a situation like this when theres bad news, is to temper the bad news with the announcement of the new fight. The fact they didnt announce either Robbie Lawler or Rafael dos Anjos against Diaz in a title fight, a deal they could have easily put together, would indicate either they were either strongly leaving the door open to be settled, or working on something bigger that they couldnt pull the trigger on the deal at short notice. </p><p>The only thing bigger that would come to mind would involve Georges St-Pierre. </p><p>The key being whatever the real story, its something neither side wanted to get out, nor that it was so heated personally that they ran down the other side. </p><p>White said that they would be bringing Diaz to Las Vegas and talk to him about a new main event for the show. From the outside, the logical move, barring St-Pierre fighting, would be Diaz getting a shot at either lightweight champion dos Anjos or welterweight champion Lawler. </p><p>The Lawler fight would be bigger. Diaz, who right now would be the A side of either title match and is probably one of the companys biggest stars coming off his win at UFC 196, would not figure to have a great chance with either. But hed probably have a better chance with the smaller dos Anjos. But dos Anjos also may take the fight to the ground and out power Diaz like he did in their December 13, 2014 fight, a very clear-cut decision won by dos Anjos. With Lawler, it would be a stand-up war. Perhaps Diazs speed and conditioning, plus his ability to take a shot, could match up with Lawlers punching power. But Lawlers conditioning is also good, and hes the bigger man and much harder puncher. </p><p>Picking Lawler would enable UFC to keep the dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez title fight announced for 7/7. But it would also leave the cupboard bare for August, when Lawler was scheduled to headline. </p><p>But St-Pierre is the lone prospective opponent that would enable UFC to do even close to the big numbers expected out of the show, particularly if that $10 million promotional budget is accurate. </p><p>St-Pierre in the slot would still allow them to keep the dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez fight on 7/7 and leave Lawler to headline in August. </p><p>St-Pierres public statement on the MMA Hour on 4/18 was that he was going to do a camp and see how his body reacts, and then make the call if hes going to fight again or retire. He seemed to be more open to fighting in interviews of late, and those close to him have been even stronger that hed be coming back. But St-Pierre made it clear that he would have to renegotiate his current contract, because he made a lot of money on sponsorships when he was a fighter, and with the UFC Reebok deal, he couldnt make that kind of money. So he was indicating he felt it was only fair for UFC to increase his purse to make up for his lost revenue. </p></li><li><p>Besides whatever fight Diaz does, UFC 200 will also have Aldo vs. Edgar plus Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes for the womens bantamweight title. </p><p>On the surface, Id peg that lineup with dos Anjos in the match at 500,000 to 600,000 buys, but the idea of it being UFC 200 could knock it up slightly. For Lawler, Id peg it a little higher. For St-Pierre, because of UFC 200 and the loaded undercard, and St-Pierre not having fought for three years, it could do 1,000,000. </p><p>If the McGregor vs. Diazs first fight did 1,500,000 buys as UFC has claimed, a rematch would be bigger, and throwing in the more loaded undercard and UFC 200 name, Id figure the difference with him and without him at 1.1 million buys for a Lawler or dos Santos fight, and UFCs cut would probably be at least $30 per buy, so thats $33 million right there, not including his being worth $5 million more at the gate, and untold revenue whether its merchandise, Fan Expo, tickets to the other weekend shows and value of the brand being as big as it would be, and that doesnt include the huge increase in revenue to the Las Vegas economy that McGregor brings. </p><p>With St-Pierre in the spot, which would not be an easy negotiation because it would probably be earlier than St-Pierre was thinking about fighting. St-Pierre from all accounts doesnt need the money nor will he put himself in a position of fighting if hes not fully ready. So while his name makes the most sense from a business standpoint, it may be a deal that doesnt work on that day. </p><p>If St-Pierre is going to fight later this year, that first bout buzz hed do here would be another big show later in the year, so its not as if putting St-Pierre on the show, if possible, would mean McGregor really doesnt mean $40 million conservatively for the show. He still does over the long run. </p><p>A UFC 200 with the right promotion and the last week buzz may get that Pacquiao-Mayweather momentum where old records get destroyed. By that I dont mean 4.65 million buys, and it probably cant do close to half that, but weve seen when it comes to the big shows of late, they usually have been exceeding even the most optimistic predictions. McGregor, more than anyone, realizes that, and knows his leverage for a move is the biggest right now. </p><p>But McGregor is also in a position to lose more money than ever before by missing this show. UFC 200 only comes along once, and UFC 300 will be eight or so years away. </p><p>McGregors window of opportunity is shorter. Hes playing an interesting game and in these type of games sometimes you have to play it all the way. In the end, itll make them respect you more and take you seriously more if you show youll go balls to the wall in this situation. But unless McGregor truly doesnt want to fight, and the timing and statements made make that feel unlikely, it is in everyones best interest to settle. Logic tells you this is all settled, and then, the actions of the last few days has only given more publicity to the fight and made it bigger because it was almost taken away. </p></li><li><p>It is also possible there could be other factors. McGregor was just at the fight in Dublin last week where Joao Carvalho ended up injured to the point he passed away. If McGregor has saved his previous earnings, there is the chance he wanted to quit when he was ahead. But he had continued to train hard after that fight, and the way UFC portrayed the story was the reaction that they were butting heads and calling his bluff, hours after he called theirs first, and not of a guy who decided suddenly to retire, while training for a fight that he himself demanded in the first place. </p><p>One person close to the situation characterized it as something that was a matter of time. Many people have seen the volatile nature of the UFC/McGregor relationship where it is all smiles in public, all denials of anything wrong, yet McGregor frequently does little things, like when he arrived more than 35 minutes late to the press conference to announce the Diaz fight. He has an inside rep for being late for scheduled appearances to clearly make a statement over who is in control of situations. </p><p>All kinds of numbers have abounded to what McGregor earned for his last two fights, but even the most generous estimate of his pay is nowhere close to $40 million, or for that matter, half of that figure. UFC has done a great job of keeping a lid of real fight purses, and in doing so, have been able to keep the main event purses from escalating at the level of salaries in sports where such numbers are public. </p><p>UFC was planning the biggest week of its history in July with three straight nights of championship fights, the Fan Expo, Hall of Fame, culminating in UFC 200, which two day ago looked to do the biggest PPV numbers in company history. But now things like very different. </p><p>The fifth annual International Fight Week, which is very much the Las Vegas version of WWEs WrestleMania week, will take place with activities from 7/5 to 7/10. </p><p>UFC did three straight nights of shows in December, but this is on a different scale. In December, the first two shows were held at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan, which held a little more than 2,000 fans. In July, the first two nights are at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which holds closer to 15,000, although no doubt itll be scaled down as far as capacity goes. Plus, if there is no McGregor, that cuts back on a lot of the tourists and will hurt attendance for all three shows. </p><p>Whether this is part of leverage or coincidence, McGregor had started following key WWE executives like Stephanie McMahon, HHH and Shane McMahon on Twitter, which was reported as a recent development (he actually did so a few weeks ago). He also followed Becky Lynch, with the connection both are from Ireland. McGregor is a pro wrestling fan, even though he doesnt publicly admit to it. Many of his promotional tactics come from pro wrestling. Where...</p></li></ul>