Published Sunday, July 10, 2016 | 10:10 p.m.
Updated Monday, July 11, 2016 | 12:02 p.m.
After weeks of denying reports of an imminent sale, the UFC confirmed them with a news release early Monday morning.
Zuffa, LLC, the company formed by local brothers Lorenzo Ferttita and Frank Ferttita III to purchase the UFC for $2 million 15 years ago, sold the mixed martial arts promotion to WME | IMG for $4 billion.
“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,” Lorenzo Ferttita said in a statement. “Most importantly, our new owners share the same vision and passion for this organization and its athletes.”
The Ferttitas will continue to hold a small share of the company, as will longtime partner UFC President Dana White.
White will stay in his current role, while Lorenzo Ferttita will cease his duties as CEO and chairman.
“No other sport compares to UFC,” White said. “Our goal has always been to put on the biggest and the best fights for our fans, and to make this the biggest sport in the world. I’m looking forward to working with WME | IMG to continue to take this sport to the next level.”
WME | IMG co-CEO Ari Emmanuel has frequently sat cageside at UFC events over the last several years. The talent agency represents former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey along with other fighters.
UFC will continue operating locally, where it’s started construction on a new multi-million dollar headquarters just off of the 215 Beltway at the intersection of Torrey Pines Drive and Raphael Rivera Way.
The Ferttitas looked to sell coming off of the most successful year in company history. Largely driven by the emergence of stars Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, Lorenzo Ferttita confirmed to the Sun that the UFC made in excess of $600 million in 2015.
Multiple reports, including one by ESPN, indicated that the promotion was finishing up a deal for a sale two months ago but White regarded them as inaccurate. Many of the details from initial story, however, are very similar to what was confirmed Sunday night.
The UFC is in the middle of another strong year driven by the success of UFC 196, which was either the first or second best-selling pay-per-view of all-time, and the expected boon from Saturday’s UFC 200.
Zuffa long boasted mixed martial arts as the world’s “fastest growing sport”, and now it has collected the check to prove it.