UFC not Misfits Anymore w/ $4 Billion Sale
For those that might still be perplexed by the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts, prepare to have it shoved in your face. When compared with the “Big 4” major sports in football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, MMA is the runt of the litter with the sport’s most popular promotion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) just under 23 years of age.
Yesterday morning at around 7 a.m. CST, the company was sold.
After originally being purchased and taken off of it’s deathbed by Zuffa, LLC from Semaphore Entertainment Group’s SEG Sports Corporation in 2001 for $2 million, the home of now household names Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor is under new ownership: William Morris Endeavor/International Management Group.
With a price-tag of $4 billion (with a “B”) it’s being called by multiple sources from The Huffington Post to Fox and Yahoo Sports, “the largest transaction in sports history.” The sale comes after heavy speculation since May. UFC President Dana White said outright while appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show”at that time that the organization was not for sale.
Official news came out the morning after the bicentennial event, UFC 200. The Pay-Per-View produced a record-breaking $10.7 million live gate according to Forbes.com and UFC Head of PR Dave Sholler. The number of PPV buys is not yet known, but there is also speculation that UFC 100’s record 1.6 million buys could be surpassed as well.
White had told the media previously that if the now former owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta of Las Vegas’ Station Casinos ever left, he would also exit. It was soon announced that he will continue in his current role as UFC President.
New owners Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell have already had a working relationship with the company with Emanuel helping bring the UFC to Fox. WME-IMG represents Rousey and and Jon Jones as individual athletes. Clients also includeBen Affleck, Matt Damon, Oprah Winfrey, Dwayne Johnson, Justin Timberlake, Drake and Rihanna, FoxSports.com’s Damon Martin wrote.
The first event under the new leadership will be tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night: McDonald vs. Lineker on Fox Sports 1 from Sioux Fall, South Dakota. The first Pay-Per-View broadcast will be UFC 201: Robbie Lawler vs. St. Louis’ own Tyron Woodley for the UFC Welterweight championship.