Over the weekend amid the UFC 277 festivities, it was announced that the Jake Paul-Hasim Rahman Jr. showdown on August 6th at Madison Square Garden has been canceled. According to Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions, it was because Rahman refused to comply with the 200-pound limit.
UFC president Dana White, however, had his own theory.
“I think they sold under a million dollars in tickets and it cost $500,000 to turn the f—ng lights on at MSG,” he told reporters at the UFC 277 post-event scrum. “That’s what I think. Not to mention the fact that hotel rooms in New York and transportation and everything else is very expensive.”
“I will say this: just because you’re an accountant here, doesn’t mean you know what the f—k goes on here, and doesn’t mean you can run a fight promotion company.”
The accountant White was likely referring to is Nakisa Bidarian, who worked as the UFC’s Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Strategy & Business Ventures from 2011 to 2016 (per his LinkedIn profile). Bidarian now works as Paul’s co-promoter and business partner, and he responded to White via a recent Instagram story video (H/T MMA Fighting).
“Had zero to do with ticket sales,” he said. “We already sold more tickets, more gate than Ryan Garcia just did at Staples Center. We were going to be top-10 in gates since 2005 at MSG.”
Bidarian reiterated that it was the weight issue, while also throwing an indirect jab at his former employer.
“Jake Paul was taking a big challenge. All of his fights have been from about 188 to 191 pounds, and all of his opponents — outside Nate Robinson — have been plus or minus one to two pounds of him. That’s all it is.
“They can try and change the narrative, they can try to destroy what this young man has done. I’m proud of him. He’s his own boss. He’s his own promoter, and I’m just an accountant. What’s up?”
Paul has since been challenged by Jussie Smollett co-conspirator Bola Osundario, who now wants to step in and replace Rahman for the same event.
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