New UFC owner Ari Emanuel and president Dana White will host the first UFC athlete retreat in May, giving a joint address to the 500-plus active fighters on the UFC roster. The two day gathering in Las Vegas will take place in May, in what will be the fighters first full integration into WME/IMG.
The UFC was purchased in July by entertainment giants WME/IMG for 4.2 billion dollars, though many of the fighters, most notably the outspoken Conor McGregor, have yet to meet with its new CEO’s Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.
So what is the purpose of the retreat? The main reason, it would seem, is for Emmanuel and Whitesell to integrate their clients into the company, creating better opportunities and a more dynamic environment for the future. It will also be an opportunity for fighters and coaches to meet with UFC management and discuss any issues or concerns they may have.
Until now, many fighters and pundits have taken to Twitter to express their frustrations at the uncertainty of the sale. Hopefully now many of these questions will be answered.
In many ways the retreat will be similar to the UFC’s annual fighter summit, though it is not the same. The athlete summit is still expected to be held in the future, but the retreat will take its place in 2017. There are a number of topics expected to be covered, including a run down of the new UFC Performance Institute that will open soon. This will be available free of charge to fighters and their coaches to learn about things such as training techniques, weight cutting, recovery, and how to deal with the press.
It is believed a number of athletes and celebrities who are represented by WME/IMG, will also appear at the retreat to offer presentations, and be available for the fighters to ask questions. The event will take place at the new UFC campus in Las Vegas, and will end with a concert performed by a high profile WME/IMG client.
By Lewis Smith