The UFC has finally been sold. Yes, following several reports that the promotion would soon no longer be a ZUFFA property, WME / IMG has announced that it has acquired the UFC. The MMA giant recently posted a statement on the official UFC website confirming the sale.
Terms of the sale were not included in the statement. Multiple outlets are reporting, however, that the sale was for approximately $4 billion.
Silver Lake Partners and KKR, MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P. are providing WME / IMG financing for the acquisition.
As expected would be the case, UFC President Dana White will remain with the promotion in his current capacity. Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta will retain a small stake with the UFC, but will not be involved in day-to-day operations.
“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 were quoted saying in the official statement. “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.”
“No other sport compares to UFC,” said White. “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.”
So, it’s the end of the ZUFFA era, which began back in 2001, when the Fertitta’s bought the UFC for just $2 million. Who could have foreseen back then that at some point, it would be sold for $4 billion…
It will be interesting to see what the plans are for the promotion, under new ownership. It sounds like we could be seeing more international shows and expansion, but we’ll see. The sale comes at a time when the UFC is pulling in some serious revenue, but it also occurs at a juncture when many fighters are calling for more compensation.