A few days ago, UFC President Dana White lashed out at Showtime - stating that he would never again take part in a working relationship with the network.
White's company came together with Showtime last year, to promote the anticipated pay-per-view fight between former five division world champion Floyd Mayweather and UFC superstar Conor McGregor - which took place last August at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
According to a press release from Showtime in December, the pay-per-view generated generated 4.3 million buys in North America - officially making it the second largest pay-per-view event of all time behind Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, which set the North American pay-per-view mark at 4.6 million buys in 2015.
The UFC executive is claiming that Showtime, for whatever reason, is underplaying the buy figures of the Mayweather-McGregor card.
The theory - from the White point of view - is Showtime is straying away from a scenario where a UFC fighter stepped in the ring for his first boxing match and that match broke boxing's biggest pay-per-view buyrate record.
Showtime is owned by a publicly traded company, so that kind of allegation by White would mean there are federal crimes being committed - which is unlikely with the numerous regulators who audit the financial figures to ensure proper information for the stock owners.
He believes the fight certainly surpassed the Mayweather-Pacquiao buy figures - an event that saw the distribution handled by a rare partnership between Showtime and HBO.
"Think about this, and I don't give a sh*t about Showtime's f***ing, full of sh*t press release that they put out - it's the biggest fight ever, ever in combat sports history. The thing did over 6.7 million buys [worldwide] and if the service didn't drop, we would have gotten closer to 7 million. It was the biggest event ever. It was the biggest boxing event ever without a boxer, there was only one boxer in that fight," White told Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.
Showtime's press release was specifically geared towards the buy figures in North America.
"Which I still question," said White.
"The way that they handled that press release and what they did - I didn't trust them before and now I just despise those f***ing guys. The Showtime guys, I will never work with them again - ever."
Espinoza appeared on Sirius XM radio - and said his network is unable to release fake numbers, because the company has regulations and auditors who go over everything on behalf of the shareholders.
The head of Showtime Sports said the network can’t release inaccurate numbers just to placate the UFC.
“Dana has got a certain style and it’s very successful for him,” Espinoza said. “The one thing I’ll point out — I don’t want to get too much into a back and forth — but we’re a public company and there are regulations, there are legal requirements. We can’t put out press releases giving fake numbers. We have shareholders. We have millions of shareholders.
“When we put something on it, when we say, ‘Here’s a Showtime Sports press release from Mayweather-Pacquiao or Mayweather-Mayweather,’ that has gone through lawyers and everyone has looked at it. It’s factual.”
As reported numerous times on BoxingScene.com, White has discussed his plans to enter the boxing market in 2018.
While White has no intention of working with Showtime, Espinoza would welcome the idea of televising boxing events by White's company.
The UFC, when they took over ownership of Strikeforce, worked with Showtime for a brief period of time.
“I think it would be incredibly arrogant for me to put personal animosity ahead of something that fight fans want,” Espinoza said. “If fight fans say they want to see another [UFC vs. boxing matchup], who am I to say, ‘Nope, I don’t like the guy across the table, so you’re not gonna see it.’ That’s one of the things that’s been wrong with combat sports and boxing in particular in the past.
“I don’t have to be best friends with everybody I do business with. That’s not how business works. Can you come together as gentlemen, as smart people and get a deal done? That’s the real question.”