Why the UFC Wanted to Keep Fighting During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Mixed martial arts outfit is on the hook for billions in debt after its 2016 acquisition by Endeavor

Despite UFC President Dana White’s best attempts, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was forced to call off its planned pay-per-view event scheduled for next Saturday after pressure from ESPN and Disney, its sole TV rights holder. But the bigger question remains: Just why was the mixed-martial-arts organization so insistent on staging an event during the worst global health crisis since the Spanish Flu pandemic?

That answer can be traced back to Endeavor’s purchase of the UFC in 2016. In that highly-leveraged deal, which was worth $4 billion, the UFC took on $2.3 billion in debt, which means the UFC is under intense pressure to fulfill those financial obligations by 2026, when those loans come to term.

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Tim Baysinger

TV reporter • tim.baysinger@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tim_bays