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UFC For Sale? Reports Have MMA Promotion Going For Upwards Of $4 Billion

UFC President Dana White

UFC President Dana White


Back in 2001, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was already on shaky legs as the promotion began instituting necessary rule changes and begin its evolution. Even with those changes, growth was slow when Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta purchased 80 percent of the UFC for $2 million from original owners SEG. Even with the sale and legalization in many states, UFC was still a niche sport looking for acceptance in the U.S. and around the world.

Fast forward 15 years and the UFC is one of the most profitable and exciting sports brands in the world making an estimated $600 million in revenue in 2015 according to Lorenzo Fertitta. Now it seems that the brothers who build their empire in the Las Vega hotel business is looking to make a profit in the MMA organization.

According to ESPN, the UFC is up for sale and the deal could be anywhere between $3.5-$4 billion. Zuffa LLC, the company that owns the UFC, hired Goldman Sachs to help with the process of possibly finding new owners for the MMA organization. There are four potential bidders looking at the UFC: WME/IMG, China Media Capital, The Blackstone Group and the Dalian Wanda Group. The final suitor is interesting because the DWG Chairman is Wang Jianlin, the richest man in China with a net worth at $35 billion. DWG recently purchased a 20 percent stake in Atletico Madrid, a soccer power in La Liga in Spain.

UFC President Dana White, who has been in the same position in the company since 2001, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the reports of the imminent sale of the UFC are not true. “The UFC is not for sale,” White said on Tuesday evening. “The ESPN story is overblown. Darren Rovell (ESPN’s sports business journalist) is not a fan of facts. His facts could not be further off.” White owns nine percent of the UFC while the Abu Dhabi government, under Flash Entertainment, owns 10 percent of the company as well.

The UFC has shown growth ever since 2005 when the advent of the reality series The Ultimate Fighter brought the sport into the mainstream. Since then the company as been featured on multiple media outlets including a seven-year dal broadcast deal with FOX in 2011. While ratings have leveled out over the last few years, the UFC is still popular with such names like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey dominating the sport in the previous 12-18 months.

The UFC is now in a odd position as Rousey, months removed from her shocking defeat to Holly Holm at UFC 193 last November, hasn’t fought since the loss. McGregor is in a dispute with the company over his right to not participate in press for future fights. The UFC to their credit are not budging from their view that fighters must hype fights in advance of events. Without those two names, the company will need to develop new stars that can draw box office at arenas and on pay-per-view and right now they are struggling fighting those new names that will draw big numbers.

Now may be the time for a UFC sale if that is indeed the plan for the Fertita brothers. The UFC is a strong asset and at the rate in which they are making money, it’s a smart investment for anyone interested. Add in the legalization of MMA in New York, the holy grail for the UFC, and the company may become more valuable as shows at Madison Square Garden are guaranteed sellouts two to three times a year. Since the UFC is a private company, we don’t know how much money they have made/loss or how much the company is really worth. But there is no doubt that the state of the UFC is strong and The Brothers Fertitta knows it. That is why they are looking a huge return on their initial investment.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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