#UFC on Fox 26 #Robbie Lawler #Rafael dos Anjos #Mike Perry #Santiago Ponzinibbio #Bellator 191 #Jared Cannonier #UFC 218 #Francis Ngannou #Michael McDonald #Conor McGregor #Peter Ligier

Photo by ?Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports?

Last year when Zuffa, LLC sold the UFC to Hollywood mega-talent agency WME|IMG for $4 billion—$3,998,000,000 more than Zuffa had paid for it just 15 years earlier—it was a ground-shaking event, the most money anyone had ever paid for any sports franchise and confirmation, as if any were needed, that MMA had at long last, and after many, many years of doldrums, shame, controversy, and insolvency, become legitimate. Suddenly the UFC was owned by a company run by a true Hollywood giant, Ari Emanuel—a man honored (and lightly mocked) on HBO comedies, a brother to the sitting governor of Chicago and a kingpin in the Democratic Party, a man who had represented Donald J. Trump. Suddenly Emanuel’s clients, Hollywood royalty every last one of them, were lining up to invest: Ben Affleck, the Williams sisters, Mark Wahlberg, LL Cool J, and on and on and on. But all that star power paled in comparison to that number: $4 billion! A number to light up the sky! And for a cage-fighting league! No one, not even UFC President Dana White—then, now, and forever the promotion’s biggest booster—would have believed back in 2001 that such a thing was possible. $4 billion was inconceivable, unimaginable, impossible, surreal.

Well, yesterday White revealed during an interview on UFC Fight Pass that WME|IMG’s number wasn’t even the biggest one offered. No, apparently, two other offers came in last year that were bigger than WME’s. The biggest, White said, topped out at $5 billion. Which means the UFC left $1 billion—a sum greater than the Gross Domestic Product of more than a dozen countries—on the table.

What a strange move for a roomful of businessmen to make.

But according to White, he and Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, the brothers who own Zuffa, never saw money as their primary motivator when it came to decision-making. For them the concern was always about making moves that would take the organization, and MMA in general, to what he calls the “next level.” Thus the decision to agree to the lower offer that came in from WME|IMG, a company White and the Fertittas believed had a plan for expanding the empire that the three of them had built from virtually nothing.

“There’s people who I believe add value,” White said. “One of the million things I respect about the Fertittas, they weren’t just going to let this thing go for the money. They were going to make sure it went to somebody who could actually take it and bring it to the next level.”

And apparently that somebody was Emanuel, a longtime talent agent who shook up Hollywood in 2009 when he merged his Endeavor agency with the legendary William Morris, “rewriting the Hollywood script,” as the Financial Times said, in the process, and earning himself a spot as one of the “biggest guns in the consolidating entertainment business,” according to Forbes. Since the merger WME|IMG has branched out into advertising, music publishing, e-commerce, branding, beauty pageants, eSports, and actual sports. In addition to owning the UFC, WME represents the NFL and the NHL. The Emanuel model is to create new worlds by bringing every world together: to blur all the lines.

Considering Emanuel’s success in expanding the concept of consolidated entertainment and creating and merging new markets, White said it was a no-brainer for Zuffa to take accept the smaller offer. “It’s just going to be so much bigger for the sport, obviously for the brand, and for the fighters,” White said.

“If you look at what Lorenzo, Frank, and I accomplished when we had no production experience, no connections to Hollywood, L.A., television isn’t what we did, we’ve never been in the pay-per-view business before. You look at what we did,” White went on. “Now we’re with a guy who is the king of Hollywood.”

And what’s a billion dollars when you have a chance to roll with a king?

Check out this related story:

Does the UFC's Sale Have a Sports Business Parallel?

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.


Show Comments

Related News

Dana White: Nate Diaz Turned Down Fights with Everybody on the UFC Roster |

  • 18 days ago

(Subscribe to on YouTube) Nate Diaz has been the subject of several rumored bouts over the past year or so since he lost to Conor McGregor at UFC 202 in August of 2016. But as frequentl read news >>

FS1, pay-per-view broadcast plans set for TUF 26 Finale, UFC 218

  • 18 days ago

It’s a double-fight week for the UFC, and the broadcast plans for back-to-back nights have been set.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Dana White Still Uncertain Whether Conor McGregor Will Return to the UFC

  • 18 days ago

The biggest questions facing the MMA world right now all revolve around Conor McGregor. Who will he fight? Where will it take place? When will it be? Not even UFC President Dana White knows the answe read news >>

Dana White Still Not Sure Conor McGregor Will Ever Return to the UFC |

  • 18 days ago

Conor McGregor won't be fighting at UFC 219 on Dec. 30 and right now there's still no word on when — or if — he will ever return again. On Tuesday, UFC president Dana White made a shocking revelation read news >>

Reminder: 'Countdown to UFC 218: Holloway vs. Aldo 2' debuts today on FS1

  • 20 days ago

As a reminder, the UFC’s traditional pre-event show returns today with the debut of “Countdown to UFC 218: Holloway vs. Aldo 2” on FS1.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Dana White not interested in Ronda Rousey's UFC return, but 'she refuses to retire'

  • 17 days ago

Dana White doesn’t want Ronda Rousey to return to the UFC octagon, but the former champ “refuses” to officially call it quits, he said. Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>

Dana White Meeting with CM Punk in Detroit to Discuss His UFC Future |

  • 17 days ago

CM Punk may be headed back to the UFC Octagon in the near future. The former WWE superstar, who was submitted in his mixed martial arts debut last September, will sit down with UFC president Dana Whi read news >>

Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm Face-Off for the First Time (Video) |

  • 16 days ago

Ahead of their monumental battle for the UFC featherweight belt, Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm faced off for the first time on Thursday in Detroit. read news >>

USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA rankings, Nov. 21: Can Gastelum make big leap?

  • 25 days ago

The UFC is in mainland China for the first time this week, and “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner Kelvin Gastelum is poised for a potentially massive leap.Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Bellator, MMA Rank read news >>

One Fighter Nearly Put the UFC Out of Business In 2002 |

  • 25 days ago

UFC president Dana White explains how one fighter nearly put the fight promotion out of business back in 2002. read news >>