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UFC sold to investment group led by WME-IMG for $4bn

A group of investors led by the WME-IMG agency has struck a deal to acquire the Ultimate Fighting Championship for approximately $4bn (€3.6bn), according to Dana White, the president of the mixed martial arts series.

White confirmed the deal to the Associated Press news agency yesterday (Sunday) evening. He will stay on to run the series, with the UFC’s owners, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, retaining a minority stake.

White, who had previously denied reports of talks over a possible sale, will be offered a shareholding in the new business, according to US sports broadcaster ESPN. He previously held a nine-per-cent stake.

Las Vegas-based CBS affiliate KLAS and the New York Times newspaper reported late Sunday night that the new owners will be WME-IMG, its owner Silver Lake Capital, KKR and MSD Capital, the investment company operated by Michael Dell.

White and the Fertitta brothers snapped up the promotional company for just $2m in 2000, with the popularity of the UFC exploding since. Fertitta will reportedly step down as part of the agreement.

“Sport is going to the next level,” White told ESPN. He added that his role will be the same as before, but “just doing it without my best friend and partners for 20 years.”

On Saturday night, the series staged UFC 200 in Las Vegas. The event drew more than 18,000 fans to T-Mobile Arena and generated $10.8m in ticket sales – both representing records in Nevada for the company.