It has been speculated for months, but now it seems to be confirmed as much as can be. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has been sold. The Fertittas have owned UFC since 2001, when they bought it for just $2 million. Back then, MMA was not nearly as popular as it is now. Pro-Wrestling was dying down in popularity, as WWE bought out its competition in WCW and ECW, and it seemed the brothers knew that the future was not in wrestling but in MMA.
Jeremy Botter of Flosports.tv confirmed the sale on Twitter.
“Am told a winning bid of 4.2 billion was accepted by Zuffa. Lead was WME- IMG/Dalian Wanda/Kraft Group/Tencent Holdings.”
ESPN, however, claimed the bid was $4.1 billion a couple days ago. The price apparently went up slightly, but it was close enough.
It appears that the entire company has been sold, and not a percentage. Flash Entertainment bought about 10 percent of the company years back, and most thought that small percentages would be sold off here and there, rather than a full sale. However, the recent sale was a full buy.
It is said that the brothers will be leaving the business, but UFC President Dana White will stay on for the immediate future. He has done an amazing job with the company as the day-to-day operator of things, and it would not make a lot of sense for the new owners to push White out. He may want to leave, of course, but that remains to be seen. As one of the top bosses in all of sports, it would be quite a blow for UFC to lose such a talented guy.
The new owners will certainly be taking on a company that is far ahead of anyone in the MMA world today.
For a time, Ronda became the top draw for the company and helped empower women around the world. She, along with several other women, made the UFC unique and the place to be if you were a mixed martial artist. Men saw great opportunities, too, as divisions kept coming and people of all sizes had the chance to prove what they could do as a fighter. Literally, UFC gave the MMA world something special, and it will take a lot to take them down, if such a thing can be done at all.
While MMA is popular, the entire world has not yet had the chance to enjoy it. Both Pro-Wrestling and MMA companies have tried to enter China for some time with very little success. WWE has made small strides lately, but UFC may very well have a much better chance with their new owners. China is a massive market to enter for sports, especially MMA. The company is apparently worth billions now. Imagine what it could be worth when it is in Chinese homes on the regular.
[Image via UFC]