WME/IMG to Buy UFC | License Global


Acquisition will aim to accelerate UFC’s global awareness and popularity.

WME/IMG has announced it will acquire UFC, a professional mixed martial arts organization, and will serve as UFC’s operating partner.

Silver Lake Partners and KKR will join WME/IMG as new strategic investors, along with MSD Capital and MSD Partners, which will provide preferred equity financing. Terms of of the transaction were not disclosed, however other reports estimate it to be a $4 billion deal.

UFC joins WME/IMG portfolio of sports brands including Professional Bull Riders and Cam Newton, among others.

“We’ve been fortunate over the years to represent UFC and a number of its remarkable athletes,” says Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, co-chief executive officers, WME/IMG. “It’s been exciting to watch the organization’s incredible growth over the last decade under the leadership of the Fertitta brothers, Dana White and their dedicated team. We’re now committed to pursuing new opportunities for UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport’s continued growth and success on a global scale.”

Upon closing, Lorenzo Fertitta, chairman and chief executive officer, UFC, will step down from day-to-day operations but will retain a passive minority interest in the organization with his brother, Frank Fertitta III, owner, Zuffa, the company that currently runs UFC. Dana White, president, UFC, will continue in his role.

“We’re confident that the new ownership team of WME/IMG, with whom we’ve built a strong relationship over the last several years, is committed to accelerating UFC’s global growth,” says Lorenzo Fertitta. “Most importantly, our new owners share the same vision and passion for this organization and its athletes.”

Founded in 1993, UFC produces more than 40 live events annually and is said to be the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world, broadcast in more than 156 countries and territories in 29 languages.