After weeks and months of speculation, the UFC has sold for $4 billion according to the New York Times. Later today CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and President Dana White are expected to make an official announcement.
The new ownership group will be led by talent and entertainment agency powerhouse WME-IMG but also consists of a private equity firm MSD and investment firm KKR Co. WME-IMG already represents one of the sport’s biggest stars in Ronda Rousey and WME CEO Ari Emanuel has had a long time relationship with UFC management so this isn’t their first foray into the world of mixed martial arts.
The report shares some details with regards to the deal in which Fertitta will step down as CEO after a period of transition, however along with brother and business partner Frank Fertitta, will retain a smaller ownership stake. Dana White will stay on as UFC president and will also continue to have an ownership stake.
ESPN first reported that the UFC was in talks to sell and this was then followed up in June by FloCombat.com’s Jeremy Botter who reported the UFC had accepted a bid of $4.2 billion from a group led by WME-IMG.
This will go down as the largest sale/purchase in sports history. Back in 2001 the Ferttitas bought the UFC for $2 million and fifteen years later sell for $4 billion which is just an incredible return on investment.
The news comes just days after UFC 200 which took place at the T-Mobile Arena and set a new gate and attendance record for the UFC in Las Vegas. For the immediate future it should be business as usual, as the UFC heads to Sioux Falls this week for UFC Fight Night 91 headlined by Michael McDonald vs. John Lineker.