ESPN says the UFC’s owners are in advanced talks about selling the UFC at a valuation of between $3.5-$4 billion. Two Chinese groups, including China Media Capital and Dalian Wanda Group, are involved in the bidding, with Dalian Wanda said to be in the lead. American companies WME/IMG and The Blackstone Group are also in the bidding.
The motivation for selling the UFC and whether or not they will be selling 100 percent of the company are not known.
The Fertitta Brothers, Lorenzo and Frank, bought the UFC in 2001 for $2 million. Also the owners of the Station Casinos in Las Vegas, the Fertittas created Zuffa LLC as the company in charge of the UFC and had business partner Dana White run the company.
Thanks in part to some recognizable stars like Chuck Lidell, Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz, the UFC grew in popularity in the years after the Fertitta’s purchase. Their “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show on Spike also helped tremendously with the overall growth and recognition of the league, and it helped the UFC develop a television presence. The UFC partnered with FOX in 2011, which gave it a regular national TV presence.
In addition to its entire fight library and properties, the UFC along the way has purchased competing promotions Pride, WEC and Strikeforce, allowing them the rights and access to a much greater stable of fighters.
The UFC reportedly grossed around $600 million last year, with profits in the $200-$250 million range. They are set for a new TV deal in 2019.
Another interesting note is that the Fertittas announced Tuesday the purchase of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas for $312.5 million.