Am told a winning bid of 4.2 billion was accepted by Zuffa. Lead was WME- IMG/Dalian Wanda/Kraft Group/Tencent Holdings.
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) June 20, 2016
This means the sale is for the entire UFC and not just a percentage, which was the case several years ago when a 10% chunk was sold to Abu Dhabi company Flash Entertainment. According to those close to the deal, owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta will be leaving, while Dana White will remain with the company and continue to run the operation for the immediate future.
The Fertittas bought the UFC back in 2001 for $2 million dollars. Before they managed to turn things around for the fledgling sport, they sank over $40 million more into the company and were on the verge of shutting it down when the first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show caught the attention of the masses in 2005 and turned mixed martial arts into the hottest new sport in the world.
It will be interesting to see what happens now that the UFC will be under new ownership. It seems likely that a ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix is’ approach will be taken, at least in the meantime while Dana White continues to run things. But we hope this new group — with several highly connected people in China — will do a better job of making the UFC a more international sport, and improve fighter pay to draw in more top athletes. The Zuffa era of the sport is ending. What happens next is anyone’s guess.