Entertainment and sports specialist WME IMG has acquired the professional mixed martial arts organisation, UFC. The ownership group is headed by WME-IMG and also includes Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Silver Lake Partners as strategic investors, as well as MSD Capital and MSD Partners to provide equity financing.
In the past, WME ǀ IMG had represented UFC and some of its athletes, disclose Emmanuel and Patrick Whitesell, co-CEOs of WME ǀ IMG.
The sale will spectacularly benefit the Fertitta brothers and UFC President Dana White, who first persuaded his wealthy high school buddies to buy the cage fighting promotion in 2001.
"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", Emanuel said.
Lorenzo Fertitta said that they are confident that the new ownership team of WME-IMG, with who they have worked well with before, is committed to boosting the global growth of UFC. The new owners reportedly share the same vision and passion for the UFC and its athletes. "Buoyed by fighters such as Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, UFC has grown into a billion-dollar business that stages sold-out events in arenas around the world, and reaches a pay-per-view audience that now rivals that of boxing's most recent biggest fights".
The staggering amount is the biggest transaction for an organization ever in sports history.
WME-IMG is a leader in entertainment and sports with more than 800 owned, operated and commercially represented events.
Dana White, UFC President, will also be benefitting from the deal and continue to own 9 percent of the company. "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. IMG to continue to take this sport to the next level". Figuring out what the business actually nets after all expenses is an inexact science, but based on a ballpark estimate of what other entertainment businesses net after costs, the UFC bottom line could be in the $200 million range. More updates and details are expected soon.
UFC's chief executive and chairman, Lorenzo Fertitta, will no longer be involved in the company's day-to-day operations.