In fallout of UFC and HTA negotiations, Wakai offers possible solution

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After Wednesday’s comments from UFC president Dana White and the Hawaii Tourism Authority ended local mixed martial arts fans hopes of an Octagon coming to the 50th state in 2018, the debate raged on Thursday over who to blame.

The two organizations are $5 million apart on what should be paid by the state of Hawaii to bring UFC 227 to Aloha Stadium Aug. 4.

Sen. Glenn Wakai, D, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, says the HTA made the correct call in turning down a $6 million payment to host the event.

“I was sadly disappointed by the UFC stepping away from bringing a fight to Hawaii, but I actually stand by what HTA’s position was,” Wakai said. “Six million dollars is far too much for them to ask. In the Octagon, eye-gouging is not allowed, but apparently in the business world, financial gouging is a common practice. We cannot be giving them $6 million for a one-time event.”

KHON2 Sports learned that the UFC estimated that costs of bringing the event to Hawaii would have exceeded $20 million due to retrofitting Aloha Stadium, production, and shipping.

The UFC was also willing to make a gamble in holding an outdoor event, something it has only done once in its history at UFC 112 in the Middle East.

Despite the deal for 2018 being dead in the water, Wakai believes that negotiations can become fruitful again if the contract becomes more state friendly. Although he doesn’t want the HTA to give out large incentives like they did with the Pro Bowl, he thinks that a new format can help ease the burden of precedent. 

“If we’re going to go down that road, why don’t we do revenue sharing?” Wakai said. “We want you to be successful, UFC. What could we possibly give? Okay, we’ll give you $6 million, UFC. If the pay-per-view count goes to whatever percent, we get a percentage of revenues. So if we’re going to continue this idea of paying for events to come here, let’s do revenue sharing. UFC, we want to see you succeed, but we’re not going to give you the bank from the people of Hawaii.”

The UFC currently does not feature revenue sharing in its events.

The organization does usually require public money for any event held outside of the continental United States.

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