A leaked email from March 2016, written by WME executive Brent Richard, sheds light on concerns and risks surrounding UFC President Dana White’s future and challenges faced by the promotion. The email, unearthed in the ongoing UFC anti-trust lawsuit, was part of the lender presentation before WME acquired the UFC in 2016.
Titled “Risks and Mitigants,” the email discussed various topics, with the second point addressing potential risks, including “Injury, death, CTE, etc.” This reflects the increasing awareness of health and safety issues, particularly related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), in combat sports.
While CTE had not been formally diagnosed in a UFC fighter at that time, the email acknowledged the possibility and highlighted the importance of discussing it. The UFC had previously emphasized its commitment to athlete health and safety, showcasing partnerships with organizations like the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the Cleveland Clinic for a head trauma study.
The email also touched on Dana White’s future as a key executive in the organization. It mentioned the need to develop a retention, transition, and replacement plan for White. Despite the concerns, White signed a new seven-year deal with the UFC in 2019, indicating his continued role as the company’s leader.
The leaked email provides insight into the internal discussions within WME regarding potential challenges and risks associated with the UFC, including legal issues such as the ongoing anti-trust lawsuit. The lawsuit, initiated by former fighters, alleges anti-competitive practices by the UFC, aiming to reduce fighter pay and eliminate competition.