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UFC Sold to WMG-IMG and Silver Lake Partners for $4 Billion

There have been a lot of circulating reports over the past couple months that Zuffa LLC and the Fertitta brothers have been in talks to sell the UFC to other parties.  UFC had been categorically shutting those reports down, but on Monday a formal announcement was made that the company has been sold for $4 billion.

Partnering up for the deal is talent agency WME-IMG and Silver Lake Partners, their owner, along with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital, an investment firm owned by Michael Dell.  They will take over the operations of the company.  In a statement, WME-IMG co-CEO’s Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said the following:

“We’ve been fortunate over the years to represent UFC and a number of its remarkable athletes. It’s been exciting to watch the organization’s incredible growth over the last decade under the leadership of the Fertitta brothers, 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.”

Over the past couple months, UFC president Dana White had been adamant that the company was not for sale, despite reports to the contrary that surfaced from credible sources.  The sale story again got traction Sunday evening, and when ESPN reached him for comment White said that the sale is bittersweet.  He added that fans should not be concerned about the change in ownership, however, and felt that the sport would “go to the next level.”  White will be staying with the promotion and will have a stake in the new deal as well to assist in the transition to new ownership.

Lorenzo Fertitta will be stepping down as a part of the deal.  He and his brother will continue to retain a minority interest in the promotion, however.  Fertitta also gave a statement regarding the sale.

“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. Most importantly, our new owners share the same vision and passion for this organization and its athletes.”

The Fertitta brothers bought UFC in 2000 for $2 million.  In 2015, the promotion took in somewhere around $600 million, and the $4 billion sale price is approximately seven times the gross revenue of the promotion. UFC makes a majority of its revenue on pay per view, but they also have a deal with FOX Sports.  When the promotion seeks to renew its television deal in 2018, experts project that deal to be worth $200 million per year if the promotion continues on its upward trajectory.

The $4 billion deal stands to be the most expensive sports transaction in history.

 

Information from ESPN.com was used in this piece.

 

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About Bill Wentz (1520 Articles)
Ring-Rap.com's Senior Columnist, writing with the site since 2009 and a lifelong wrestling fan dating all the way back to the early Wrestlemania years. As a strongly opinionated fan, you can get my thoughts regularly on Ring Rap Audio and Around the Ring on Thursdays, as well as in "Wentz's Blog" in print. Look for my live show reports as well for MMA, WWE, ROH, and more. Outside of wrestling, I have a strong obsession with trucks, winning awards statewide with a truck dubbed the "Brahma Bull Edition." Interact with me on Twitter @Bill_SoonerFan or by email at bwentz@ring-rap.com

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