UFC sold for $4 billion - and according to Conor McGregor he deserves thanks
President Dana White is to keep his role saying - ‘No other sport compares to UFC’
The UFC has been sold - according to reports from the US on Monday morning. Photograph: Getty Images
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been sold to WME-IMG for $4 billion.
The talent and sports agency WME-IMG confirmed the deal to purchase the mixed martial arts organisation on Monday morning.
A statement from the agency read: “WME-IMG, which has a proven track record of building leading sports brands, will focus on accelerating the sport’s popularity and presence around the world. Silver Lake Partners and KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) will join WME-IMG as new strategic investors, along with MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P. which will provide preferred equity financing.”
UFC chairman and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta will step down from his position but both he and fellow co-owner and brother Frank will retain a minority interest in the organisation.
WME-IMG co-CEOs Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said in a statement: “We’ve been fortunate over the years to represent UFC and a number of its remarkable athletes.
“It’s been exciting to watch the organisation’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.”
The sale sees the end of a successful era and 15-year ownership under the Fertitta brothers, alongside friend and UFC president White, who will continue his role following the deal.
The casino entrepreneurs, under their sports promotion company Zuffa, purchased the mixed martial arts organisation for $2 million in 2001 before transcending the promotion and helping the sport grow into a global phenomenon in the world of combat sports.
Irish fighter, and UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has taken to Twitter to thank the outgoing owners - “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!”
Talking in his press conference for next month’s rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 - McGregor said “I believe that there’s a $4.2bn estimate on the company because of me, and I feel like I carried this company in 2015.”
The UFC, founded in 1993, is now the world-leading MMA organisation, with coverage seen in more than 150 countries, reaching 1.1 billion television households and White believes the sport can reach the next level under the agency group.
“No other sport compares to UFC,” White said.
“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.”
Chairman and CEO of the UFC, Lorenzo Fertitta, added: “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.”