Talk about good value for your money? How about turning $2 million dollars into $4 billion?! That doesn’t happen very often. I’m not sure that’s ever happened. But it just happened to Dana White and the Fertitta brothers.
I mean, these dudes had themselves a weekend. UFC 200 on Saturday night; a reported $4 billion dollar sale today.
The UFC reported this morning it is selling to WME-IMG for 4 bills this morning.
This has been rumored for quite some time. Dana White has essentially denied them at every turn. But…but…he did leave the door open when I asked him about it on this show last May: “The reports that came out were not very accurate at all. Obviously we’re a business, we’re always doing business, we’re always trying to grow the sport and take it to the next level, and we’re always working on deals, and as far being sold, people make us offers all the time. So we’ve turned downed some pretty big offers.” And then added: “But in all honesty, you show up with 4 to 5 to 6 billion, we will seriously be talking.”
Well, WME-IMG did and apparently the company will sell.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Ari Emanuel, is the co-CEO of WME and reportedly will have an active role in it. And I know my guy Mark Shapiro, who initially worked for me at ESPN, before I worked for him there, will be all over it. Shap is tight with Dana White and Shapiro was the first to put UFC highlights on Sportscenter and go with live news reports from the fights. Now ESPN is all over the sport where prior to that, they thought the sport was too brutal and barbaric. So I know Shapiro will be involved, and that as big as WME-IMG is, this is an absolute game changer.
As for the Fertitta bros, who had majority ownership; they will reportedly remain with a minority ownership, but obviously will not have as large a role. And Dana White will reportedly stay on as president. Good thing; hard to imagine that company, really the sport, without Dana White.
Fact is, the UFC without Dana White isn’t the UFC. This isn’t football; trust me the NFL would still be the NFL without Roger Goodell. It might even be better. But you can find another Roger Goodell. Probably pretty easily. But there’s not another Dana White.
And I really hate to think what that company and sport would look like without him. Fortunately, we probably won’t find out for quite some time.