UFC is expected to announce Monday that it has been sold for about $4 billion, several news organizations report.
The owners of Ultimate Fighting Championship -- casino entrepreneurs Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta -- sold the company to a group led by the talent giant WME-IMG along with private equity heavyweights Silver Lake, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and the investment firm of billionaire Michael S. Dell. The Fertittas will keep a minority interest, according to the New York Times and TMZ.
WME/IMG company head Ari Emanuel will help run the organization, sources told TMZ, while Dana White will remain as president but Lorenzo Fertitta will step down as CEO.
The Fertitta brothers bought UFC in 2000 for $2 million when the organization was struggling with promoters and trying to win approval from state athletic commissions.
Today, UFC fights are seen in more than 156 countries and take place in all 50 states. Its fights can draw as many as 20,000 spectators and, along with cross-promotional programming like “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, athletes like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey have been elevated into mainstream stars.
Perhaps most attractively, it claims millennials as some 45 percent of its audience, the New York Times reports.