UFC sold for $4 billion! The former owners, the Fertitta brothers, bought the then dying company for only $2 million. From a barbaric spectacle without much regulation and distribution, the Fertitta brothers and UFC president Dana White turned it to a legitimate sport with a global following.
— Forbes (@Forbes) July 11, 2016
Now, with marketable MMA superstar athletes and sponsorship deals with veritable brands such as Harley Davidson and Reebok, the UFC has nowhere to go but up. But to whom did the UFC sell itself to?
The UFC sent an email to all its fighters revealing the sale. UFC lightweight Joe Lauzon shared it on Twitter.
— Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon) July 11, 2016
UFC sold for $4 billion to WME | IMG. It is described in the letter as ?a renowned entertainment, sports and fashion giant.? Other companies will also join WME | IMG as new strategic investors. This includes the investment firm of Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computers, and the likes of KKR and Silver Lake Partners.
WME | IMG operates in more than 30 countries managing and representing some of the world?s greatest sports figures and fashion icons. The company is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media.
WME | IMG has league development as one of its core competencies. The company has been involved in boxing through the creation and international promotion of the World Series of Boxing. Speaking of its global reach, WME | IMG is also involved in professional basketball in India. It is working with the Basketball Federation of India in building necessary infrastructure and commercial backing to launch India?s first professional basketball league.
In the entertainment side of things, WME | IMG manages the careers of Gabrielle Union and Steve Harvey. It also created memorable made-for-TV shows such as American Gladiators, FIFA Futbol Mundial and Trans World Sports, among others. In the world of fashion, the company had managed global events such as the Fashion Week (New York), London Fashion Week and SWIMWEEK (Miami), among many. ?Also, it owns the Miss Universe pageant (see the Miss Universe-Steve Harvey connection?).
As the UFC has grown so much under the now former ownership, White is still expected to head the company. Fighters reacted to the change of ownership via Twitter.
— Joe Ellenberger (@JoeEllenberger) July 11, 2016
Deadly can't wait to see what % I'll get out of that 4 billion no more work for me going in to tell the boss to fuck himself
— Neil 2 Tap Seery (@NeilSeeryMMA) July 11, 2016
— Kyle Kingsbury (@Kingsbu) July 11, 2016
UFC worth as much as Star Wars. Pretty damn crazy.
— Josh Samman (@JoshSamman) July 11, 2016
I am honoured to have fought under the Fertitta regime! To have been mentored by these great people on this great business is a true honour!
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 11, 2016
What will happen to fighter pay? Will all of the fighters get to quit their day jobs? Will the pay be like that of boxing? Will we see the UFC have different champions for different regions? Will we see more women?s weight classes? We shall see. MMA fans, we live in a very exciting time.