BEVERLY HILLS—UFC, previously owned by brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, has been sold to the Hollywood entertainment conglomerate WME-IMG, according to the Associated Press. The Fertitta brothers will benefit substantially from the $2 million investment they made in 2001.
Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman and CEO of UFC, said in a statement: “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.”
The announcement was confirmed on UFC’s website on Monday, July 11 that the Fertitta brothers sold the company to WME-IMG and will only maintain a passive minority interest in UFC.
Dana White, UFC President, will also be benefitting from the deal and continue to own 9 percent of the company. He will also remain president and the face of UFC once the transaction is complete.
“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.”
WME-IMG is a leader in entertainment and sports with more than 800 owned, operated and commercially represented events. Their focus for UFC will be on accelerating the sports popularity and presence around the world.
“We’ve been fortunate over the years to represent UFC and a number of its remarkable athletes,” said WME-IMG Co-CEOs Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell. “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.”
There will be little change for UFC’s promotion with a full schedule of fights for 2016 leading up to UFC’s debut at Madison Square Garden since New York legalized MMA this year. It is unclear yet whether the non-unionized athletes of the sport will receive more money due to this deal.
UFC was founded in 1993 and now has more than 500 athletes under contract. The company hosts around 40 events every year that are broadcast in more than 150 countries to around 1.1 billion televisions.