UFC has become the most expensive sports purchase ever
The mixed martial arts league, UFC, has been sold for 4 billion dollars to the WME-IMG talent group overtaking the purchase of the LA Dodgers as the most expensive in history.
The UFC has broken the record for the sales of a sports entity after being bought for 4 billion dollars by a combination of the sports and arts talent group WME-IMG backed by private equity groups. This figure eclipses those of other sports purchases including Manchester United, PSG and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 23 year old Ultimate Fighting Championship group, which has led the rise of the popularity of mixed martial arts against flagging interest in traditional boxing, said the move will help boost the global growth of the organization and the sport.
WME-IMG, which represents and promotes artists, athletes and sports brands, will take over as operating partner, after having represented UFC for several years.
The Fertitta Brothers, casino operators who bought UFC in 2001 for $2 million, will remain minority partners and UFC president Dana White will keep his position. In May, White denied reports that the organization was up for sale.
"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," said WME-IMG co-chief executives Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell in a statement.
Helped by stars like Ronda Rousey and some 500 fighters under contract, UFC has grown to dominate the MMA world, with 40 live events annually and some of the largest pay-per-view events broadcast worldwide.
The takeover came three months after New York became the last US state to legalize live mixed martial arts fights, opening a lucrative market to UFC and its competitors. UFC is planning a live fight event at Madison Square Garden, the storied location of legendary boxing prize fights over the past century, on November 12.
The largest sales in the world of sports
Los Angeles Dodgers: $2.1 billion
In 2012 an investment group headed up by basketball legend Magic Johnson bought the baseball team paying the most ever for a sports club.
Los Angeles clippers: $2 billion
Steve Ballmer, ex CEO of Microsoft, bought the basketball franchise in 2014. Donald Sterling, the previous owner, was forced to sell after being suspended by the NBA for controversial racist comments.
Manchester United: $1.47 billion
Malcom Glazer became the largest shareholder at the English club in 2005. Upon his death in 2014 the ownership was passed to his family.
Buffalo Bills: $1.4 billion
Miami Dolphins: $1.1 billion
Chicago Cubs: $845 million
Jacksonville Jaguars: $760 million
Manchester City: $250 million
PSG: $100 million
Chelsea: $85 million
Value of other sports entities:
- Dallas Cowboys (NFL) valued at 4 billion