Speculation has been rife in the mixed martial arts world in recent weeks that Lorenzo and Frank Feritta, the brothers who head Zuffa and are the two principal owners of the UFC, were strongly considering selling the company.
Jeremy Botter of FloCombat.com reported yesterday that a bid of $4.2 billion (€3.7 billion) from a group consisting of several different partners had been accepted by Zuffa after a sealed bidding process conducted by Goldman Sachs.
While this doesn’t mean that the company has changed hands yet, it implies that this might be happening very soon.
The UFC were quick to deny these reports.
Speaking to MMAJunkie, the UFC Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler said:
FloCombat.com’s report indicating that the UFC has been sold is false. We’ve communicated that to our staff members by internal memo.
Despite that being about as flat a rejection of the speculation as possible, just about every well-placed MMA media member has given weight to these reports in one way or another. It is worth noting that Sholler's denial of the story rejects the fact that the UFC has been sold, but doesn't deny that a sale process is currently underway.
MMAJunkie got their hands on the internal memo circulated by the UFC and signed by CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. It reads:
A report today on FloCombat.com indicating that the company has been sold is false. This follows other false speculation in the press recently.
Such misinterpretation of facts in the media negatively impacts our business, staff members and athletes.
With International Fight Week and the historic UFC 200 rapidly approaching, we look forward to once again delivering a series of events that our fans won't soon forget. We appreciate your hard work, diligence and commitment, and thank you for your focus as we continue to take the sport to new heights.
It is understood that Dana White would remain with the company if a sale is indeed announced, while former Manchester City chief Garry Cook would be the primary candidate to replace Ferititta as CEO.
Matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby would also retain their positions with the UFC.
One piece of news that will disappoint fans though, is that Joe Rogan - whose contract is up in August - has gone on the record as saying he wouldn't renew his deal if a sale goes through and that may well be the only real, if massive, difference for the fans if/when this sale goes through.