Lawrence Epstein serves as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Zuffa, LLC, which owns and operates the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®), the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization. He previously served as the Company’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel beginning in August of 2007. In his role as Chief Operating Officer, Epstein is responsible for all of Zuffa’s worldwide operations.
Under Epstein’s leadership, Zuffa spearheaded the regulatory effort for the sport of MMA, gaining approval and sanction from the world’s most prestigious regulatory bodies including the Nevada, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ontario (Canada), and New South Wales (Australia) Athletic Commissions. As a result of Epstein’s guidance, the UFC has become the fastest growing sports organization in the world.
During his tenure as Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Epstein was responsible for Zuffa’s corporate government relations functions including activities before the United States Congress, State Legislatures and governments around the world.
The UFC, headquartered in Las Vegas and with offices in London, Toronto, Singapore and Sao Paulo, produces more than 45 live events annually and is the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world. Epstein has directed much of the Company’s international expansion and, as a result, the UFC has shattered box office records across the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Japan and Brazil. He was also instrumental in establishing television distribution agreements around the world with leading broadcasters such as Globo, Televisa, FOX International, and BT sports.
In 2012, the UFC burst into the mainstream with a landmark seven-year broadcast agreement with FOX Sports Media Group. The agreement includes four live events broadcast on the FOX network annually, with additional fight cards and thousands of hours of programming broadcast on FOX properties FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Broadcast Networks. This also includes the longest-running sports reality show on television, The Ultimate Fighter®, which airs on FOX Sports 1.
In addition to its reach on FOX, UFC programming is broadcast in over 145 countries and territories, to nearly 800 million TV households worldwide, in 28 different languages. Ancillary UFC businesses include best-selling DVDs, an internationally distributed magazine, UFC.TV offering live event broadcasts and video on demand around the world, a videogame franchise with Electronic Arts (EA), UFC GYM®, UFC Fight Club® affinity program, UFC Fan Expo® festivals, Octagon ™ branded apparel and Topps Trading Cards. Primary sponsors with the UFC include Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Dodge, MetroPCS and Harley-Davidson.
Epstein also spearheaded the UFC’s launch of UFC Fight Pass™, a new and innovative digital subscription service that delivers a minimum of 10 exclusive live events per year, newly created and exclusive content, and unprecedented on-demand access to the company’s vast MMA video library. UFC Fight Pass has become the premier destination for MMA fans to enjoy hundreds of hours of fights and exclusive content online from their smart TVs, personal computers and mobile devices.
Prior to joining Zuffa, Epstein was a Partner and the President of the Nevada based law firm Beckley Singleton, which joined with Lewis, Rothgerberin 2007. Epstein’s private practice focused on business litigation and encompassed transactional work including contracts relating to MMA, boxing and other entertainment businesses. He is rated AV (Preeminent) by Martindale Hubbell and has been featured in numerous publications, including the American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, Vanderbilt Lawyer magazines and the Sports Business Journal.
Epstein is also the President of IKE Gaming, Inc., the owner of the El Cortez Hotel and Casino. The El Cortez operates over 1,000 slot machines, 20 table games and 354 hotel rooms in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Epstein has maintained a non-restricted gaming license in the state of Nevada since 1992.
A life-long resident of Nevada, Epstein has also been involved in numerous civic and charitable organizations. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of The Meadows School, a private non-sectarian pre-K through 12 institution.
Epstein holds a Juris Doctorate and a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University and is a member of the Vanderbilt University School of Law Board of Advisors.