Despite producing the second biggest pay-per-view event of all time as business partners, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White and top draw Conor McGregor really aren’t seeing eye-to-eye with Showtime Sports.
White is under the assumption that McGregor’s boxing debut opposite Floyd Mayweather Jr. this past August did somewhere in the 6.7 million pay-per-view (PPV) buy range. Showtime, on the other hand, led by head executive Stephen Espinoza, has downgraded that number to 4.3 million in a recent press release, essentially cutting out a vast majority of the global PPV buys.
As you could have imagined, White didn’t react too kindly to Showtime’s press release indicating lower sales for Mayweather vs. McGregor. The UFC head honcho blasted Showtime in a profanity-laced outburst and reassured everyone that he would never do business with the company again.
Espinoza remains confident that Showtime did the right thing and released the numbers it was supposed to.
.@StephenEspinoza responds to Dana White & says he would welcome Dana to the #boxing world as a promoter but points out that Showtime is a public company that cannot put out press releases giving fake numbers & that the Mayweather-McGregor PPV numbers they released were factual. pic.twitter.com/vwqPMcxG2I— SiriusXM Boxing (@SiriusXMBoxing) January 6, 2018
“Dana has got a certain style and it’s very successful for him,” Espinoza said during a recent appearance on Sirius XM radio (shown above). “The one thing I’ll point out — I don’t want to get too much into a back and forth — but we’re a public company and there are regulations, there are legal requirements. We can’t put out press releases giving fake numbers. We have shareholders. We have millions of shareholders.
“When we put something on it, when we say, ‘Here’s a Showtime Sports press release from Mayweather-Pacquiao or Mayweather-Mayweather,’ that has gone through lawyers and everyone has looked at it. It’s factual.”
Unfortunately for Espinoza, White isn’t the only UFC figure he has to deal with. McGregor, who has as much to gain from higher PPV buys as White does, once again called Espinoza a “weasel” earlier this week. Espinoza, knowing how “Notorious” operates, especially via social media, isn’t taking the verbal lashing to heart.
“That’s Conor,” Espinoza said. “You go through his feed and he goes at opponents like that, he goes at business people like that. He goes at referees like that sometimes. That’s him.”
.@StephenEspinoza responds to Conor McGregor's criticism and says this is just an example of how Conor operates and jokes that he hopes Conor got all the checks for #mayweathermcgregor! #boxing pic.twitter.com/FWgVw1gf6O— SiriusXM Boxing (@SiriusXMBoxing) January 6, 2018
As far as doing business with UFC and White in the future, Espinoza is all for it. Not only will he “welcome” White’s potential move over into boxing, but the Showtime frontman would be willing to entertain another crossover superfight that would appease the masses.
“I think it would be incredibly arrogant for me to put personal animosity ahead of something that fight fans want,” Espinoza said. “If fight fans say they want to see another [UFC vs. boxing matchup], who am I to say, ‘Nope, I don’t like the guy across the table, so you’re not gonna see it.’ That’s one of the things that’s been wrong with combat sports and boxing in particular in the past.
“I don’t have to be best friends with everybody I do business with. That’s not how business works. Can you come together as gentlemen, as smart people and get a deal done? That’s the real question.”