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White committed to UFC amid buyouts talk

Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has denied reports he will leave the mixed martial arts promotion should the WME-IMG agency proceed with plans to buy out various minority partners in the organisation.

Last week, WME-IMG confirmed it had received a cash injection of approximately $1bn (€846.4m) as part of an investment move led by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Government of Singapore Investment Fund (GIC).

US magazine Variety said the agency will use the funds to help buy out a number of minority partners in the UFC, which WME-IMG acquired for $4bn in July 2016.

However, White (pictured) has now moved to reiterate his commitment to the series and told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that he is “not going anywhere” and will remain part of the business should the mooted buy-outs go ahead. 

White added: “Not only am I not going anywhere, I’m actually making moves in the office and doing (stuff) and changing things for the way I really want it. I’m burrowing myself in like a…tick.”

Although WME-IMG is yet to confirm the minority partners it intends to buy out, a source close to the matter told the Times that the list does include White, as well as a number of banks, various investors in the United Arab Emirates and former owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

The source also said that while not all minority partners will be bought out fully, the investment funds will enable WME-IMG to expand to a majority ownership stake of 51 per cent.

Since acquiring the UFC in July 2016, WME-IMG, which is headed up by co-chief executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, has led the series into its first-ever cross-promotion with another company. US cable and satellite television network Showtime will broadcast the boxing match between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor and unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. on August 26.

Speaking about his relationship with WME-IMG one year on from the acquisition, White said that he and Emanuel are “partners” and will be working together to improve the UFC moving forward.

“We’re getting involved in more (stuff),” White said. “We’re not going to spend a lot of money and not change things. I’m making a lot of changes… for things I want changed.”

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