Update: WME-IMG Buys UFC for $4 Billion in Richest Sports Franchise Deal Ever

By Sherdog.com Staff Jul 11, 2016
The most lucrative franchise sale in sports history is now official, as Zuffa LLC has sold the Ultimate Fighting Championship to William Morris Endeavor and International Management Group (WME-IMG) for a reported $4 billion.

The ownership group is headed up by WME-IMG, one of the world’s largest talent agencies, also includes Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Silver Lake Partners as strategic investors, as well as MSD Capital and MSD Partners to provide equity financing.

“We’ve been fortunate over the years to represent [the] UFC and a number of its remarkable athletes,” WME-IMG CEOs Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said in a joint 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 [the] UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport’s continued growth and success on a global scale.”

Brothers Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta purchased the UFC for $2 million under the Zuffa LLC banner in 2000, promoting their first event at UFC 30 on Feb. 23, 2001.

Under new ownership, Loreonzo Fertitta, who owned 40.5 percent of the company, will step down from day-to-day operations, while both he and brother Frank III, who owned another 40.5 percent, will maintain “passive minority interest,” according to WME-IMG. UFC President Dana White, who owned nine percent of the UFC, will continue in his role.

“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,” White said. “I’m looking forward to working with WME-IMG to continue to take this sport to the next level.”

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