Anyone have an extra $3.5 to $4 billion dollars laying around? Hold up, let me check my couch cushions.
According to ESPN.com, the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship are in advanced talks with four bidders to sell the world’s premiere mixed martial arts promotion.
Dalian Wanda Group, the rumored early front runners to win the bidding war, WME/IMG, China Media Capital and The Blackstone Group are the four groups looking to acquire the UFC at a valuation between $3.5 to $4 billion.
UFC vice president of public relations Dave Sholler refused to confirm or deny the company’s private business.
“As a private company, we don’t discuss speculation or rumors related to our business,” Sholler told ESPN.com.
Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, is owned by Lorenzo (pictured) (40.5%) and Frank Fertitta (40.5%), Flash Entertainment (10%) and UFC president Dana White (9%). The Fertitta brothers, who made their early money as owners of Las Vegas’ Stations Casino, purchased the UFC in 2001 for just $2 million. Lorenzo Fertitta recently told CNN that the company grossed about $600 million in revenue in 2015.
Through the years, the UFC has purchased all of their largest competitors including Strikeforce, WEC, Pride FC and WFA, which has caused many to accuse the UFC of holding a monopoly on the sport of MMA.
Zuffa’s most significant accomplishment took place in 2011 when they signed a seven-year, reported $90 million per annual broadcast deal with FOX. In 2014 the UFC launched UFC Fight Pass, an online streaming network that contains past UFC events and live fight cards of not only the UFC, but Invicta FC, Glory, Brace MMA and many other small MMA promotions. The subscription costs $9.99/month.
Dalian Wanda Group is a Chinese-based conglomerate whose chairman, Wang Jianlin, is the richest man in China with a reported worth of nearly $35 billion.
Wanda started making its move into professional sports last year with a 20 percent stake in soccer club Atletico Madrid for a reported $48 million.