UFC’s new owners WME-IMG have announced that 23 A-List celebrities now own a partial stake in the company.
WME boss Ari Emanuel confirmed the news in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, but didn’t go into detail as to how much of an investment each star had made.
The celebrities in question include movie stars like Ben Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, Sylvester Stallone and Tyler Perry, singer Adam Levine, rapper LL Cool J, sporting heroes like Tom Brady, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Cam Newton, plus talk-show hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien.
That’s only 12 of the 23 investers involved though, with the full list expected to be revealed later today.
A clear example of how having high-profile celebrities on-board could benefit the UFC and the way it’s perceived in the mainstream was seen earlier this week when one of the investors, Jimmy Kimmel aired a clip of Conor McGregor’s verbal clash with Jeremy Stephens on his popular talk-show on ABC.
Introducing the footage, Kimmel joked that a UFC fighter would probably be president within the next couple of election cycles, while adding that the spat was an example of why the UFC is much more popular than boxing.
All the celebrities who’ve invested in the company are already represented by UFC owners WME, who are first and foremost a far-reaching American talent agency, and according to Emanuel, giving them a small stake in the company made sense as, “they would always ask for tickets. I think it’s a mainstream sport now.”
In the WSJ article, Emanuel also confirmed that WME hopes to have more UFC stars crossover into other forms of entertainment, following in the footsteps of Ronda Rousey, who is already represented by WME and has had roles in high-profile movies like ‘Fast And Furious 6’, ‘Entourage’ and ‘The Expendables 3’.