UFC president Dana White has emphatically denied that his beloved MMA promotion is up for sale.
“If somebody has four billion dollars to buy the UFC, come over here right now and we’ll talk,” White said in an interview with Fox Sports host, Colin Cowherd. “We’re always making moves to grow the sport, to grow the brand and make this thing bigger. There’s a lot of hacks that cover this sport. We live in a world now of clicks. They will literally say anything to get clicks and everybody’s an insider. There are no insiders in this sport. I mostly put all fires all day. But I love my job and I love the sport. I’m not beat up and tired yet.”
Rumors have been swirling recently that the UFC, which Dana White has been president of since 2001, is up for sale. Companies such as the Chinese conglomerate, Dalian Wanda, the Blackstone Group, WME/IMG, and China Media Capital have all been listed as potential bidders.
Dalian Wanda – which is owned by Wang Jianlin, the richest man in Asia – is said to be leading the bid.
It is hard to confirm the accuracy or reliability of these sources, though, considering they are always anonymous. A representative for the Blackstone Group also said the company is not considering a bid.
White said that the UFC is “always working on deals,” but was quick to point out that his promotion does not talk about said deals because of “confidentiality.”
“Obviously, if I’m in the middle of a deal right now, there’s a lot of confidentiality involved in it. We’re working on expanding. We’re working on growing the company and moving it to other territories like China, Japan and Korea. So yeah, we’re always working on deals.”
Dave Sholler, the UFC’s vice president of public relations, said the same.
“As a private company, we don’t discuss speculation or rumors related to our business.”
Another company representative told the Los Angeles Times that interest in the UFC does not mean there is a pending sale.
The question also needs to be asked why the UFC’s majority owners, Lorenzo Fertitta and his brother Frank, as well as Dana White would want to sell the promotion.
The UFC is a cash cow if there ever was one. In 2001, the Fertitta brothers bought the UFC for only $2 million. Today, it worth billions.
The UFC also hit a record-setting $600 million in revenue last year, thanks in large part to current featherweight champion, Conor McGregor,and former women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey. Both Rousey and Conor headlined three cards, and Rousey’s loss to Holy Holm at UFC 193 set a company attendance record at the Etihad Stadium in Australia.
Granted, the status of both of these stars is currently unknown. Conor is having his issues with the UFC, and we do not know when Rousey will be back.
But revenues for the company could increase by the end of the decade. In 2019, the UFC will negotiate a TV deal that could pump $250 million in annual revenue into the promotion.
With all of the money the UFC has made and all of the money it could make, there is little reason to see why Dana White or the Fertitta brothers would be in any hurry to sell the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion.
[Image by Jeff Chiu/AP Images]