Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed-martial arts empire, has been sold for $4 billion --- and this time, it's for real, reports CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV.
Stories about a possible sale have surfaced over the last two months, but each time the purported deals collapsed. This time, though, the papers were signed Saturday, the station says.
The price makes it the largest single deal in the history of sports, KLAS sources close to the situation say.
The New York Times, which also reports the deal is done, notes that UFC "seemed for years to be a curio, a niche sport for those interested in seeing combatants pummel one another in an octagonal cage. But UFC has become a global sports empire and now commands an eye-popping price tag."
Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, the brothers who own 80% of UFC, originally bought the sports network for $2 million. The Fertittas will retain a small percentage in the new ownership group, KLAS says.
According to KLAS, the new owners include an alphabet-soup partnership of WME (William Morris Endeavor), the internationally known talent agency, IMG (International Management Group) a global sports and entertainment company based in New York, and MSD, a private equity group headed by Michael Dell. Also involved as a strategic partner is KKR, a global investment firm.
People familiar with the deal tell KLAS Lorenzo Fertitta will remain as UFC chairman of UFC for 6-8 weeks during the transition but will then step down. UFC president Dana White, who currently owns 9 percent of the organization, will continue in his role with UFC and will have a smaller ownership stake.
A full announcement was expected early Monday morning.