The ownership of the UFC could very well soon change hands, as the current owners are reportedly in advanced talks to sell their business.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that there are at least four bidders that have submitted their offers for the organization. The four bidders include WME/IMG, China Media Capital, The Blackstone Group and Dalian Wanda Group, according to Rovell.
The UFC will be going for a pretty penny, with Rovell reporting that the winning bid could be anywhere between $3.5 billion and $4 billion.
Lorenzo Fertitta and his brother Frank own 80 percent of the business, that grossed $600 million in revenue just last year, according to Rovell.
Based on this tweet from Rovell, you could understand why the current ownership would be willing to sell:
If Fertitta brothers sell UFC for $4 Billion, it would be quite the return on investment. Bought it for $2 million in 2001.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 10, 2016
David Sholler, vice president of public relations and athlete marketing for the UFC didn’t give ESPN much info:
“As a private company, we don’t discuss speculation or rumors related to our business.”
By not saying much, could very well be them saying a lot. If there was nothing to the rumors, surely they would have shot them down right then and there. But this very much appears to be a thing that is happening.
Along with the Fertittas, UFC president Dana White and the Abu Dhabi government own a 10 percent stake in the business.
Rovell reports that Dalian Wanda Group is the leader to buy the UFC, and provides more information on their background:
The leader in the bid to buy the biggest mixed martial arts business in the world is said to be Chinese-based conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, sources said. Its chairman, Wang Jianlin, is the richest man in China, worth nearly $35 billion, according to Forbes Magazine.
The company has slowly been getting into sports. Last year, Wanda bought a 20 percent stake in soccer superpower Atletico Madrid for a reported $48 million. In March, amid the FIFA scandal, the company agreed to sign on as a FIFA partner, the highest level of sponsorship, through 2030.
In January, Dalian Wanda Group became the first Chinese company to become owners of a major Hollywood film studio when it agreed to buy Legendary Entertainment from Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull for about $3.5 billion.
There’s no doubting that the UFC is growing. It has its superstars just as any other major professional sport does, and has arguably gotten bigger than boxing has. The likes of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey have had their names and likenesses reach outside of their sport, which shows just how much growth there has been.
No matter who makes the winning bid, there’s no denying the Fertitta brothers are in for a big payday.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 11, 2016