It’s now been well over a year since WME-IMG first bought the UFC for a staggering $4 billion, resulting in the Fertitta brothers stepping aside and Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel taking the reigns as the head honcho of the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion.
However, Emanuel has been surprisingly aloof since then, with UFC president Dana White remaining the man in charge of the day-to-day running of the company and the main point of contact for the media.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this means Emanuel is a shrinking violet though, as nothing could be further from the truth.
Like White, he is a bombastic, larger-than-life figure with a fascinating life story, and it’s his strategic vision that White now follows as they attempt to take the promotion, and indeed the sport, to new heights.
With that in mind, it’s high time we delved into Emanuel’s life to find out who he really is, what makes him tick, and what his plans are for the UFC’s future.
He’s The Real-Life Ari Gold
It’s almost impossible to have a conversation about Ari Emanuel without mentioning the fact that he was the inspiration for the unforgettable ‘Ari Gold’ character in the hit TV show, ‘Entourage.’
The story goes that the show’s creator Doug Ellin originally had another big-time Hollywood agent in mind as the inspiration for one of the characters in the show, until coming face-to-face with Emanuel (who was the show’s executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s agent at the time), leading to the realization that this in-your-face, fast-talking, foul-mouthed force of nature was the perfect blueprint for the role.
How like the real Emanuel is the version played by Jeremy Piven on the show though?
It depends on who you speak to, with some of those who know him claiming that it’s right on the money, while an ex-business partner claimed, “he can turn on Ari Gold when he needs to.”
Whatever the case, his association with the memorable TV show character has only been a positive for Emanuel’s career.
“[Emanuel] has made himself a larger-than-life figure in a town where everybody thinks they’re 50 feet tall,” Deadline Hollywood’s Dominic Patten once mused to ABC News.