The question of who owns the UFC is a bit more complicated to answer than it was previously. The promotion is now owned by multiple companies that are made up of various shareholders.
Let’s break down who owns the UFC and how we got to this point. Going over the timeline of different owners and explaining how the UFC now operates.
- 1 The Timeline Of UFC Owners
- 2 Who Owns The UFC Now?
- 3 About The Current UFC Owners
- 4 How Much Did The UFC Get Sold For?
- 5 What Is Dana White’s Current Position In The UFC?
- 6 Endeavor Attempts To Buy The UFC Outright
- 7 The Future Of UFC Ownership
The Timeline Of UFC Owners
Before we get into who owns the UFC, let’s break down the history of UFC owners. Here are the three eras of ownership since the company was founded in 1993.
The first owners of the UFC were Art Davie, Bob Meyrowitz, and Rorion Gracie. Originally Art Davie was approached by Rorion Gracie to make a Vale Tudo style fighting tournament.
This was a way to promote Gracie Jiu Jitsu to a national audience. The two partnered with Bob Meyrowitz, who owned one of the first pay-per-view companies, SEG.
They got more backing from 28 different investors and created WOW Promotions. With a legitimate company and investors, the three would book their first event in Denver, Colorado.
UFC 1 would net around 80,000 pay-per-view buys, which was a huge success for the promotion. Events following UFC 1 would also have moderate success and gain an underground following.
Unfortunately, the success would be short-lived, as WOW Promotion wouldn’t make a profit on the UFC going towards the 2000s.
Fertitta Brothers (ZUFFA)
By 2000, Art Davie remained as the owner of the UFC but wanted to sell the promotion. This is where Dana White comes into the story.
White was a fight promoter from Massachusetts that fled the state after threats from the Irish mob. He moved to Las Vegas and befriended Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, who owned multiple casinos.
Dana heard that Davie wanted to sell the UFC, which sparked the interest of White. He approached the Fertitta brothers to purchase the promotion.
The brothers were at first hesitant, but White talked them into purchasing the UFC. Frank and Lorenzo would buy the UFC for $2 million in 2001 and start a new era for MMA.
Initially, Dana and the Fertittas had the same problems as the original owners. Athletic Commissions didn’t like the UFC or MMA, and the promotion was bleeding money.
This would go on for four years until White approached Spike TV with an idea for a reality show. The show would be called The Ultimate Fighter, where contestants would fight for a UFC contract.
We saw an epic battle between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar in the finals. White claims that this fight saved the UFC and created the 2nd MMA boom.
After the TUF 1 event, the UFC would grow exponentially over the next few years. Becoming the biggest MMA promotion in the world by 2010. Also later becoming a billion-dollar company
MMA fans were stunned in 2016, when it was announced that the Fertitta brothers were selling the UFC. They were made an offer by multiple entertainment companies that they couldn’t pass up.
They made a deal with Endeavor group and multiple other entertainment companies to sell the UFC for $4 billion dollars. A massive profit from the $2 million they paid to buy the company in 2001.
The brothers would sell the last of their holdings in the UFC to Endeavor a year later. Even though the Fertitta brothers are no longer the owners, the UFC has continued to grow exponentially under new management.
Who Owns The UFC Now?
Four different companies now own the UFC as of 2016. The majority owner of the fight promotion in the Endeavor group. One of the biggest entertainment companies with numerous subsidiary companies under its umbrella.
Endeavor owns a 50.1% stock in the UFC and the sports promotion company Zuffa that puts on UFC events. The other 49.9% of the UFC is owned by 3 other shareholders made of numerous people.
These three shareholders include Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital.
About The Current UFC Owners
UFC ownership has gotten a bit more complex from the age of the Fertitta brothers owning the promotion. Here are descriptions of companies that now own stakes in the UFC.
Endeavor is the biggest shareholder of the UFC holding 50.1% of shares in the promotion. The company is based out of Beverly Hills, California, and is led by current CEO Ari Emanuel.
This company was initially created in 2009 after a merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor Talent Agency. The company is an agency that represents numerous figures in the entertainment and sports industries. They also currently represent the NFL and NHL.
Silver Lake Partners
Silver Lake Partners is one of the minority shareholders of the UFC. They are a private equity and investment firm that is based in California.
This company played a vital part in purchasing the UFC by putting up a large percentage of the money.
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is the second of three minority shareholders that own the UFC. They are an investment company with stakes in various companies and hedge funds.
The third minority owner of the UFC is MSD Capital. A private equity company based out of New York that has holdings in banks and hotels along with the UFC.
How Much Did The UFC Get Sold For?
Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta sold the majority of their stakes in the UFC for a reported $4 billion dollars. A massive profit from when they first bought the failing promotion in 2001 for $2 million.
The Fertitta brothers would sell their remaining equity in the UFC in 2017 to WME-IMG. A talent agency that’s part of the Endeavor group that bought the majority of the UFC’s shares.
What Is Dana White’s Current Position In The UFC?
Dana White is still the active president of the UFC and lead spokesman for the fight promotion. White still owns a stake in the UFC that he has no plans to sell in the foreseeable future.
Endeavor Attempts To Buy The UFC Outright
For the last year, Endeavor has made their intentions known that they want to buy the UFC outright. During the pandemic in 2020, the UFC made up 80% of the company’s profits.
This created the desire to buy out the minor shareholders of the UFC. They also want to make the UFC(Zuffa) a publicly traded company to increase its value and gain more profits.
The minority shareholders turned down Endeavor’s first attempt at a buyout in 2021. However, Endeavor has said they will continue to make more offers in the future.
The Future Of UFC Ownership
As of now, none of the current shareholders of the UFC have any intention of selling their stakes in the promotion. Although Endeavor has made its intentions clear to one day own 100% of the UFC.
Either way, the UFC will continue putting on events and being the #1 MMA promotion in the world.