Forget Manchester United, the New York Yankees or Real Madrid, the UFC is now the single most expensive brand in sports history after owners of the company, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, accepted a bid of $4 billion from a private ownership group for full ownership of the company.
The sale of the world's largest MMA organisation had been touted in the press for months but flatly denied by the UFC, who even threatened legal action against publications in the US who were reporting it.
Lorenzo Fertitta, CEO of the UFC, confirmed the news overnight to CBS. Fertitta and his brother Frank purchased the UFC is 2001 for a price of $2 million and they have turned down several overtures of bids for the company over the years but the price this time around appeared to be too big to turn down.
Dana White said to the New York Times:
As far as the business goes, our goal was to always take this sport to the next level, and Ari and WME-IMG are the guys to take it from here.
Lorenzo was worth $1.5 billion and there were many times he’d put in longer hours than his staff in our offices.
Largest sale in history of sports. #UFC sold for 4 billion to WME-IMG and MSD capital. Fertittas and White small % pic.twitter.com/b7Fj0ZXs4x
— Chris Maathuis (@sports8) July 11, 2016
I am honoured to have fought under the Fertitta regime! To have been mentored by these great people on this great business is a true honour!
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 11, 2016
What does this mean for UFC fans? Well, in theory very little should change. Dana White, who has been the public face of the UFC for 15 years, will stay on as president and will hold a minority share but both of the Fertitta's will be gone.
This might also mean that UFC fans will have to get used to hearing some new voices on the broadcasts as Joe Rogan, whose commentary has become part of the UFC's identity over the years, has previously stated that he will leave the company when his contract exprires in August if the company is sold.
Dana White (@danawhite) on future involvement: Same. President, owner, working my ass off. Just doing it without my best friend and partner.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 11, 2016
The sale is expected to be officially confirmed today and we'll keep you in the loop if there's any further comment.