ESPN writer Darren Rovell has claimed that the UFC are in the midst of advanced negotiations to sell their business, with a price tag reportedly in the region of several billion dollars.
According to Rovell, the four companies vying for control of MMA’s leading promotion are WME/IMG, China Media Capital, The Blackstone Group and Dalian Wanda Group.
The company is currently owned by a few key individuals, with Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta having an 80% stake, while Abu Dhabi’s Flash Entertainment having a 10% share and UFC President Dana White claiming 9% of the pie, and at this stage they appear to be denying that they are looking to sell the company.
“The UFC is not for sale,” White categorically told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The ESPN story is overblown. Darren Rovell is not a fan of facts. His facts could not be further off.”
Earlier in the day, UFC Vice President Of Public Relations, Dave Scholler had told media that, “As a private company, we don’t discuss speculation or rumors related to our business.”
There had been similar whispers on the grapevine about the UFC potentially looking to sell for a few months though, and yesterday several other journalists gave credence to ESPN’s claim.
“I was told last week that China’s Wanda Group was the current front-runner in these talks and the sale could be announced as soon as July,” MMAfighting.com’s Ariel Helwani wrote on Twitter when the news first emerged.
Meanwhile, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Snowden, who’s credited with being the first to discuss the sale rumor long before ESPN’s story went to print, has had a few things to say on the latest news.
“I’m told that Dana White’s status actually a negotiating point in at least one of the offers for #UFC. Not everyone keen on him staying on,” Snowden claimed on Twitter.
However, later in the day Snowden appeared to be backing down slightly from his original belief that this was a full sale of the company.
“At least one of the parties negotiating with #UFC is looking at an equity stake under 10%. This may be a partial sale like UFC did w/ Flash.”
Judging by White’s comments that ESPN’s original story had been “overblown”, it could well be that the four companies they mentioned are just vying for a stake in the company instead. Given how the previous equity deal with Flash went, that wouldn’t likely have a great deal of impact on the way the business operates on a day-to-day basis.