Conor McGregor’s recent call for an equity stake in UFC may have sounded outlandish, but it isn’t outside the realm of possibility, according to company president Dana White.
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McGregor made his demand just moments after his knockout victory over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 last November, the fight promotion’s first card in New York City in two decades. Negotiations for McGregor’s next fight contract are likely to be tense, given his request for an ownership share as a prerequisite for returning to the Octagon.
Historically, UFC hasn’t offered equity to its top stars, no matter how popular. But with the company’s popularity hitting its peak worldwide, just months removed from its $4 billion sale to media giant WME/IMG, White isn’t ruling out a compromise – even if McGregor has to foot the bill to make it happen.
“I think anything is possible,” White told FOXBusiness.com. “A lot of people bought into equity. Conor’s got enough money to buy a piece. If Conor really wants to come in, come on in. A lot of people put their money up and bought in.”
The 28-year-old Irishman is in a unique position of leverage, having established himself as one of the sport’s biggest draws and a record-breaking source of revenue. With the win over Alvarez, McGregor became the first fighter in history to hold the championship of two weight classes at once.
UFC 205 drew more than $17 million in gate receipts – a record for both the UFC and New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The card also broke the promotion’s domestic attendance and pay-per-view buy records.
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The event capped a banner year for UFC, which has opened its arms to outside investors since its sale to WME/IMG last July. A group of 23 celebrities and sports figures, including late night host Conan O’Brien and actor Ben Affleck, purchased stakes in UFC last September – a development that wasn’t lost on McGregor.
“They’ve got to come talk to me now because no one’s came and talked to me since the sale has happened as a businessman,” McGregor told reporters after the event. “Who owns the company now? People have shares. Celebrities. Conan O’Brien owns the UFC now. Where’s my share? Where’s my equity? If I’m the one that’s bringing this, they’ve got to come talk to me now. I’ve got both belts, family on the way. If you want me to stick around, if you want me to keep doing it, let’s talk. But I want the ownership now. I want the equal share. I want what I deserve, what I’ve earned.”
McGregor is already one of the sport’s highest-paid stars. He earned $3 million for his rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 last August – the highest disclosed sum for a fight purse in company history. Salary figures for UFC 205 weren’t disclosed, but McGregor has claimed that he’ll earn a cumulative $40 million in 2016.