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ZUFFA roasted by Standard & Poor’s as UFC profits drop 40 percent in 2014

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The sky isn't falling, but that hasn't stopped the ZUFFA brass from taking shelter.

The same company that was recently named one of the "World's Most Valuable Sports Brands," under the leadership of "Brand Genius" (and UFC President) Dana White, is now faced with a 40-percent decline in profits for calendar year 2014, according to Standard & Poor's (S&P).

MMA Payout adds some perspective:

S&P now expects ZUFFA's cash flow/debt leverage to increase to the "high-5x area at the end of 2014." In its October 2014 report, it had predicted ZUFFA to be in the 3 range. The cash flow/leverage is based on a scale of 1-6 with 1 being minimally leveraged to 6 being highly leveraged. ZUFFA is now pegged as 5 whereas S&P had forecasted it being a 3.

What's to blame?

Injuries, for one, which contribute to much lower pay-per-view (PPV) buys. In the past few months, the promotion was forced to postpone title defenses from two of its biggest stars in light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez.

And Georges St. Pierre, the longtime "king" of PPV, is playing hooky.

It should also be noted that ZUFFA has been extremely aggressive in its global expansion, at the same time that it rolled out its new "UFC Fight Pass" digital network. That means a bevy of long-term investments, without a lot of short-term profits.

Too much, too soon?

S&P, which downgraded the ZUFFA credit rating from "BB" to "BB-" due to "greater EBITDA volatility" just last month, was expecting 2015 to be a recovery year. That outlook, however, has been amended to reflect the increased losses and welp, it looks like we're in for a rough ride.

Do you want to be a f---ing MMA promotion?

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