UFC Sale Announced; Price Tag Reportedly at $4 Billion | Athletic Business

UFC Sale Announced; Price Tag Reportedly at $4 Billion

Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG announced plans Monday to acquire Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), reportedly for $4 billion.

WME-IMG is partnering with its owner Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital, the investment firm of billionaire Michael Dell, to take over the mixed martial arts company, according to reports.

“We’ve been fortunate over the years to represent UFC and a number of its remarkable athletes,” WME-IMG co-CEOs Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said in a joint statement. “It’s been exciting to watch the organization’s incredible growth over the last decade under the leadership of the Fertitta brothers, (UFC President) Dana White and their dedicated team. We’re now committed to pursuing new opportunities for UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport’s continued growth and success on a global scale.”

The New York Times, Las Vegas TV station KLAS and TMZ Sports first reported the sale on Sunday night. Reports of the possible $4 billion sale first surfaced in May, most notably from ESPN’s Darren Rovell. At the time, UFC and White denied those reports.

White will remain as UFC’s president. He currently owns 9 percent of UFC but will have a smaller ownership stake, KLAS reported.

“No other sport compares to UFC,” White said in a statement. “Our goal has always been to put on the biggest and the best fights for our fans, and to make this the biggest sport in the world. I’m looking forward to working with WME-IMG to continue to take this sport to the next level.”

iClubs: UFC Gym President Excited About UFC Sale

Lorenzo Fertitta, chairman and CEO of UFC, will step down from day-to-day operations upon the sale’s closing, which is expected in the next six to eight weeks. He and his brother, Frank, will retain a minority interest in the organization. The Fertitta brothers bought UFC in 2001 for $2 million, operating the business under the name Zuffa, Italian for “fight.” The Fertitta brothers and UFC overcame million-dollar losses on their way to enormous growth.

“We’re confident that the new ownership team of WME-IMG, with whom we’ve built a strong relationship over the last several years, is committed to accelerating UFC’s global growth,” Lorenzo Fertitta said in a statement. “Most importantly, our new owners share the same vision and passion for this organization and its athletes.”

Founded in 1993, UFC produces more than 40 live events annually and is the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world, broadcasting in all 50 states and 156 countries to nearly 1.1 billion TV households. Its most recent event was UFC 200 on Saturday in Las Vegas. UFC generates about 2,000 hours of content each year, The New York Times reported, most of which is available on UFC’s Fight Pass streaming service.

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