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Dana White dismisses reports of 'advanced talks' over a $4 billion sale of the UFC

A Chinese-based conglomerate is reported to be the leading bidder for MMA’s largest promotion.

UFC Fox Mixed Martial Arts UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. Source: Reed Saxon

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING Championship could soon be sold by its current owners for quite a substantial profit.

That’s according to a report from ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell, who says “advanced talks” are in progress to sell the largest promotion in mixed martial arts.

Rovell added that four bidders are believed to be interested, with “the winning bid, should things proceed… expected to be for a valuation between $3.5 billion and $4 billion”.

The Dalian Wanda Group — a Chinese-based conglomerate whose chairman is Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, who’s worth nearly $35 billion according to Forbes — is said to be the leading bidder. Wanda purchased a 20% stake, worth a reported $48 million, in 2016 Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid last year.

Responding to the report, UFC president Dana White told the Las Vegas Review Journal: “The UFC is not for sale. The ESPN story is overblown. Darren Rovell is not a fan of facts. His facts could not be further off.”

As a private company, the UFC seldom addresses its financial matters in public. However, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta told CNN in December that the promotion generated $600 million in revenue in 2015, making it the most successful year for the company yet.

Fertitta, along with his brother Frank and Dana White, purchased the UFC for just $2 million in 2001 under its parent entity, Zuffa LLC. It’s understood that the Fertittas own 81% of the business, while Dana White possesses a 9% stake. Flash Entertainment (a company owned by the Abu Dhabi government) bought a 10% stake in 2010.

Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com reports that although nothing is finalised, a sale of the UFC could happen as soon as July.

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Paul Dollery

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