After months and months of speculation and rumors the sale of the UFC has finally come to fruition. Reports surfaced late Sunday night that Zuffa Inc, had sold its majority share of the Ultimate Fighting Championship for $4 billion dollars. An official announcement is expected to be made on Monday.
The new owners are a group led by WME-IMG talent agency. Current CEO Lorenzo Fertitta will step down while Dana White will remain as president. Lorenzo’s brother Frank Fertitta will also part ways with the organization as both of the bothers have sold their collective 80-percent stake but they will retain a significantly smaller portion of the company.
WME-IMG is no stranger to the world of MMA as it has and currently represents such famous fighters as Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey.
Reports started to surface in May that the UFC was up for sale and that Zuffa was in advanced talks to get the promotion sold. White and UFC officials denied all the reports but jokingly stated that they would entertain any offers.
The Fertitta brothers, who made their money in the casino game, bought the UFC in 2001 for $2 million dollars and in their 15 year reign transformed the sport from what many were calling “human cockfighting” to mainstream popularity. They moved to get the sport sanctioned and adopted the term “mixed martial arts” rather than just calling it “ultimate fighting”. The signed major television deals to bring the product to mass audiences first with Spike TV and then the landmark deal with Fox Sports. The deal with Fox is reported to be over in 2018 but is expected to be worth about $2oo million a year if the UFC continues to grow and hold more events.
The deal was announced as the organization just wrapped up “International Fight Week” that saw them hold three separate events in Las Vegas which culminated with UFC 200 on Saturday.