UFC has been sold for $4 billion in a deal expected to be officially announced Monday.
Las Vegas-based CBS affiliate KLAS and The New York Times reported late Sunday night that the new owners will be talent agency WME-IMG, its owner Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital, the investment firm of Michael Dell.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the sale in interviews with ESPN and The Associated Press. WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel also announced the sale early Monday in an internal company email that included SNTV — a joint venture between the AP and IMG.
“We’ve been honored to have UFC and a number of its athletes as clients and couldn’t be happier to take our relationship to this next level as the organization’s owner and operating partner,” Emanuel said.
At $4 billion, it stands to be the most expensive transaction for an organization in sports history.
It’s quite a story considering brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought the organization in 2000 for $2 million.
The price paid for UFC is roughly seven times earnings, as chairman Lorenzo Fertitta told CNN that the organization grossed about $600 million in revenues in 2015.
Fertitta, who declined to comment to ESPN, will reportedly step down as part of the deal, although the Fertittas will retain a minority interest. White, who owned 9 percent of UFC, will stay on and be given a stake of the new business.
The Abu Dhabi government still owns 10 percent of UFC as well.
Reached Sunday night by ESPN, White, who had adamantly denied the organization was for sale for the past two months since an initial ESPN report, said the sale was bittersweet.
He said fans should not be concerned about the change in ownership.
“Exact opposite,” White said. “Sport is going to the next level.”
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Darren Rovell and Brett Okamoto