UFC Sells Itself For Record-Breaking $4 Billion

You frequently hear about manufacturers involved in multibillion-dollar mergers, and you occasionally hear about an individual sports team being sold for big bucks, but it’s pretty rare these days to see an entire sports organization being sold for ten figures. 

This morning, the owners of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced it had reached a $4 billion deal to sell itself off to new ownership — William Morris Endeavor-IMG, and its partners Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital.

The popular mixed martial arts promotion company contends that this is the biggest transaction in history for a sports organization.

“We’ve been honored to have UFC and a number of its athletes as clients and couldn’t be happier to take our relationship to this next level as the organization’s owner and operating partner,” Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, co-chief executive officers of WME-ING, said in a statement.

WME-ING says it will focus on accelerating the sport’s popularity and presence around the world, while MSD Capital and MSD partners will revived preferred equity financing for the organization.

“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,” the new owners said. “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.”

News of the deal comes two months after Dana White dismissed rumors that UFC was looking to sell itself.

“We’re always working on deals and our expansion globally,” White told the “Dan Patrick Show” in May, ESPN reports. “I’ve been saying since this thing came out, no, we’re not for sale, but let me tell you what. If somebody shows up with $4 billion, we can talk. We can definitely talk.”

And that looks to be exactly what happened.

White, who will reportedly keep his 9% ownership in UFC, told ESPN on Sunday night that the sale was bittersweet, but noted the change will take the sport “to the next level.”

[via ESPN]