The UFC has had multiple changes of ownership since it was first founded in 1993. In this article, we will explore who owns the UFC now as well as it’s history of ownership.
UFC Ownership History
The UFC was founded in 1993 by Bob Meyrowitz, Art Davie, and Rorian Gracie. In the early days of the UFC, the promotion struggled to find a platform to showcase its events and experienced lots of resistance from political parties who deemed the sport of MMA to be “human cockfighting”.
Despite these challenges, the UFC continued to grow and managed to gain a cult following within the martial arts community. In fact, the only thing that managed to keep organisation afloat in the early days was the sale of VHS tapes.
Over the years the ownership of the UFC has changed hands several times. In 2001, Dana White was involved in the MMA world as a manager of fighters. His client list included the likes of Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, who were two of the biggest superstars in the sport at the time.
White heard a rumour that the UFC was in financial trouble and could potentially be up for sale. Although he was heavily interested, Dana knew he did not have the kind of funds necessary to pull off a sale of this magnitude. It was then that Dana decided to enlist the help of some friends – casino magnates Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III.
From $2 Million to $4 Billion
The Fertitta brothers were successful Las Vegas entrepreneurs who made their fortune in the casino industry, and they saw an opportunity to turn the UFC into a profitable enterprise. The Fertitta’s, with help from Dana White, set up a company called Zuffa Inc and paid 2 million dollars for:
- A cage
- Some fighter contracts
- The library of past UFC events.
The Fertitta’s installed Dana as president of the company and under his leadership, the UFC underwent a huge transformation. Dana invested heavily in the marketing and promotion side of the business. His biggest investment was the creation of the the Ultimate Fighter TV show which was largely responsible for why the company became so successful.
Dana fought to have the sport regulated and added much more rules in order to legitimize MMA as a sport. This helped to change the outlook of the sport from “human cockfighting” to a contest between highly skilled martial artists. This helped the sport to become more mainstream and appeal to a wider audience.
In 2016, Zuffa Inc sold the UFC to a group of investors led by WME-IMG for over $4 billion. This sale price made it one of the largest sports acquisitions in history. In 2017, WME-IMG reorganized its parent company and rebranded to it’s new name – Endeavor.
Who are Endeavor?
Today the UFC is owned by Endeavor. Endeavor is a publicly traded company, which means that it is owned by its shareholders. The company also recently acquired the WWE from Vince McMahon.
While the UFC is owned by Endeavor, its day-to-day operations are managed by a team of executives and officials who are appointed by Endeavor. Dana White who acted as UFC President under the former owners, Zuffa, continues in the same role under Endeavor ownership and is still the primary decision maker for the execution side of the business.
In conclusion, the ownership of the UFC has changed three times over the years.
- The organization was founded by Bob Meyrowitz, Art Davie, and Rorian Gracie in 1993.
- Purchased by the Fertitta brothers in 2001 and under the leadership of Dana White, the UFC was transformed into a hugely profitable company,
- In 2016 it was sold to a group of investors led by WME-IMG who later changed their name to Endeavor in 2017.
Today, the UFC is owned by Endeavor, and continues to grow and expand through the guidance of President Dana White.