Eddie Hearn was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani this week, and spoke about a variety of topics, including Taylor-Serrano on Saturday, his relationship with Dana White and UFC, including what he hopes to take from their business model, Canelo, Tyson Fury, and much more.
The full interview is up top in the video. Also, don’t miss DAZN EVP Joe Markowski’s appearance on the same show.
On possibly being the best promoter in combat sports
“I’m not in awe of Dana White, but I have huge respect for him as a promoter. So if you ask me, ‘Are you the best promoter in boxing?’ It’s not even close. Genuinely, not even close. But Dana White I see as a trailblazer in terms of promotion. Not just as a promoter, but in terms of the business, the brand. The way that that sport or that brand has penetrated the global combat market.
“For me to not answer that question with, ‘Absolutely I am,’ is a massive credit to Dana White, because my ego is out of control. I can’t sit here and say I’m a better promoter than Dana White. I just don’t know, because the proof is in the pudding in terms of the growth that business has had. Whether that’s down to him — the model is quite similar. I recognized that if I could build my platform or my brand, you’re not solely dependent on talent in terms of your commercial deals and your broadcast deals. Dana White and the UFC have built a product where they can go into new territories, they can sell out arenas without you actually knowing who’s fighting.
“I was at the London event, people knew that Molly was on and people knew that Paddy was on, but [it was], ‘UFC are coming to London! Get your tickets!’ Same [as WWE], and that’s the same as what we’re trying to do. You have your own production values, the production is in-house, you control your own narrative, you control your own shoulder programming, digital content, you build your social media team. We’re following in suit of UFC, and I always say we copy a lot of what they do, I have no problem saying it. We’re the closest thing to UFC in boxing.”
On whether he might consider going into MMA
“We’ve had loads of approaches from investment companies. ‘Could you back an MMA project?’ And it’s, like, when people talk about Dana in boxing — you have to have a passion. Personally, I love boxing, I’ve been around boxing since I was eight years old, and I have such a huge passion that I can sit at ringside, scream and shout, and just be totally engrossed in boxing. And I see that in him [when he’s at UFC shows]. Still, as many fights as you watch, to still have that passion and energy, and that’s the love for what you do.
“I find it difficult to get involved with something that I don’t have the same passion for, and I don’t yet have that passion for MMA. I’m a fan, I think, sort of borderline, but who knows in time? But I don’t think Dana could have that same passion in energy in boxing, and I don’t think I could have it in MMA. … He’s done a few bits and pieces, but the model’s different, the balance sheet is different, everything’s different. The control is different.
“I go back to the building of the brand; what they’ve done so well, Dana and the UFC, is create a model that is not totally reliant on talent. In boxing, you kind of rely on talent, really, whether it’s Canelo or AJ or Fury. I kinda get the feeling with UFC, they want to create stars, but they want to just — and once you get someone outspoken and powerful like Conor [McGregor], it becomes a nightmare for them. Well that’s day-to-day in our world. We’re dealing with egos, personalities, agents, managers, and everything. We let them get out of that box, where I feel the UFC do a great job to — almost like the brand is bigger than the fighter.”