Earlier this morning, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) was sold to WME-IMG (a talent management firm) as well as private equity firms Silver Lake, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Michael S. Dell for an insane 4 billion Dollars.
This marks the end of an era for the mixed martial arts promotion as it looks to a bigger and better future without its previous owners, Zuffa Pvt.
The UFC was first televised back in 1993 and since then has had its fair share of ups and downs. It was owned and operated by the Semaphore Entertainment Group up until 2001, when crippling debt and being banned from various states in America forced the owners to sell the company. In stepped Dana White with the backing of Las Vegas billionaires Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.
They bought the dying promotion for USD 2 million under the parent company, Zuffa, and set out to create one of the biggest fight promotions the world has ever seen.
At the time, MMA as a sport was not in very good shape. It was banned from Pay-Per-View and broadcast television and had already garnered a reputation as a cocktail of brutality and wanton violence. No doubt, the sport was vicious but if there's one thing I've learnt is that people love fighting. Seriously, look at the movies we watch.
We idolize action stars who beat the living shit out of their foes and look up to badasses on screen! The people loved this new and crazy spectacle!
The new owners of the UFC knew this and set out to clean the sport up for a mainstream audience. They introduced new and safer rules, brought in the involvement of the Athletic Commissions of various states and broke up fighters into separate weight classes to ensure a fair playing field.
This took the sport a long, long way! After the premier of the MMA themed reality show, The Ultimate Fighter and the subsequent TV ratings the finale brought in, the UFC were on their way to 'World Fucking Domination'. Their words, not mine!
The reality show was their last chance at pushing the sport into the mainstream and after spending almost USD 45 million over the years, it was finally getting there. Investors were now seeing the light and wanted in. From Harley Davidson to Bud Light, they were all willing to sponsor the upstart brand! Over the years, the company amassed a fortune and repeatedly cracked profits well over 100 million dollars annually!
Earlier this year, there were rumours that the UFC was going to be sold and there were four main players vying for the MMA crown. The company was now worth a whopping USD 4 billion! In the end, only one won out and now WME-IMG are the new owners of the UFC!
Also, just to give you a hint of what is yet to come, the guy who heads WME-IMG is the guy Ari Gold from Entourage is based on. Yep, that guy!
After negotiations and an incredibly successful week for the promotion, culminating in UFC 200, the sale was finally formalized this morning, according to FOX Sports. No one knows what's going to happen at the moment, but this news has just hit and we knew that we had to let you fight fans know what's up.