As reported widely today, the top promotion in combat sports Ultimate Fighting Championships was sold for $4 billion. WME-IMG (better known as the William-Morris agency) will serve as the UFC operating partner with “strategic investors” Silver Lake Partners and KKR. MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P. will also provide funding as well. The sale has yet to officially take place but it expected to be finalized in next few weeks.
“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 in a statement. “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.” It’s worth noting that Ariel Emmaniel is the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Wonder if this means Rahm will have a green light to jump in the Octagon once he’s out of office?! Let’s get back the story.
Once the sale is finalized, Dana White who has long served as the president of UFC will continue in the role. White who has been critical part of the promotion meteoric rise in global sports, stated to the Los Angeles Times that his specifc role would be “”president, owner and day-to-day [promoter].”
The Ferttita brothers purchased the UFC for $2 million in 2001. Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta will keep a “passive minority interest” with the UFC, according to A public statement today. The biggest change could occur with Shawn Shelby and Joel Silva who are the UFC machmakers. Their status is not yet clear at this time, but with the Ferttitas and White remaining it seems like they won’t be going anywhere.
MMAfighting.com analyzes the whole situation and what it means to fight fans.