Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White said Sunday night his company has been sold to a group led by Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG, with multiple business reports placing the price at $4 billion.
UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta and his brother, Frank, purchased the company in 2000 for $2 million, and grew it into an empire that is regulated in all 50 states, stages worldwide events and counts Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor as mainstream sports stars.
.WME-IMG, headed by Ari Emanuel, has aggressively pushed to expand its digital media muscle. The company also represents Rousey.
“As far as the business goes, our goal was to always take this sport to the next level, and Ari and WME-IMG are the guys to take it from here,” UFC President Dana White told The Times late Sunday night.
White cashed out an undisclosed sum for his percentage of the company, then repurchased a percentage with WME-IMG and said he will serve as “president, owner and day-to-day [promoter].”
Major expenditures will require board approval, White said.
He said that denying reports since March that the company would be sold was necessary because “there was 100 times it wasn’t going to be sold.”
The deal separates the passionate White from his calm close friend and chairman, something he said has affected him all weekend.
“Lorenzo was worth $1.5 billion and there were many times he’d put in longer hours than his staff in our offices,” White said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t emotional.”
On Saturday, with Fertitta sitting octagon-side, the organization celebrated UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The event generated a record $10.8 million live gate for the UFC and could become the best-selling pay-per-view in company history.
The deal with WME-IMG was reportedly finalized this weekend.
Fertitta will retain a small, passive minority ownership role. What he will do by cashing out is yet to be seen, with rumors including possible interest in ownership should an NFL team move to Las Vegas or expanding his casino/Las Vegas building empire.“
“Lorenzo, for now, is going to chill, spend time with his family,” White said.”