Current & Past UFC Owners: Who Owns the UFC? (UFC Sales)

Are you wondering who owns the UFC currently and who the past UFC owners are?

In this article, we’ll look at the current UFC owners and all previous UFC owners, by looking through all UFC sales since the UFC was founded in 1993.

Who Owns the UFC in 2022? (Does Dana White Own the UFC?)

Many fans of the UFC incorrectly believe Dana White is the UFC owner, or at least part owner. As of 2021, Dana White no longer owns any shares in the UFC.

From 2001 to 2021, Dana White was a part owner of the UFC, but the current 100% UFC owners are Endeavor Group Holdings (formerly WME-IMG), a holding company that owns large stakes in various businesses, such as talent and media agencies, and most notably the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) and the UFC.

Endeavor became the majority UFC shareholder in 2016 when they partnered with other investment firms to buy the UFC in a $4 billion deal. This valuation was just shy of seven times the $600 million UFC revenue generated in 2015.

This is how the shareholders looked after the purchase:

  • WME-IMG: 50.1%
  • Abu Dhabi government: 10%
  • Fertitta brothers: 5.8%
  • Dana White: previously had a 9% stake but with this deal, he was given a new undisclosed stake
  • Prive equity firms, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, MSD Capital, and Silver Lake: an undisclosed split of the remaining 34.1%. Though this could be lower or higher, depending on the stake Dana White received.

One year later, WME-IMG renamed itself Endeavor and bought out the remaining minority shareholders, which included the Fertitta’s and the Abu Dhabi government, while Dana’s stake still remained undisclosed.

This meant Endeavor now owned 65.9% of the UFC, while the remaining 34.1% was split between the other equity firms and Dana White.

Endeavor’s 2021 Initial Public Offering (IPO)

On April 29, 2021, Endeavor had an initial public offering which they used to raise $1.75 billion to buy the remaining 34.1% UFC shares.

The IPO was successful and Endeavor Group Holdings now owned 100% of the UFC.

This meant Dana White and the remaining private equity firms sold their shares at the value of $5.147 billion.

Although undisclosed, if Dana White held his original 9% stake until 2021, at the value of $5.147 billion, the selling of his shares would have netted him $463 million.

For the Fertitta brothers, the $4 billion sale price represented a 72% annual return, every year, on their $2 million purchase in 2001 – quite some investment.

Who Owns the UFC? – The Zuffa Era

Before Endeavor took a majority stake in 2016, the UFC owners were the Fertitta brothers who bought the UFC from 100% owners, Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG), in 2001.

The Fertitta brothers, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta paid $2 million for the UFC, which became a subsidiary of Zuffa LLC, the parent company they founded along with the purchase.

They made Dana White promotion president along with a 9% stake in the UFC. The Fertitta brothers owned the other 91%, and the three childhood friends were the sole UFC owners up until Endeavor became the majority owners in 2016.

The Founders & the First UFC Sale (1993-1995)

The UFC was founded in 1993, with the first event on November 12, and was founded by:

  • Art Davie: marketer and entrepreneur
  • Rorion Gracie: Bjj academy owner and member of the Gracie family – the family who started Bjj and vale tudo
  • John Milius: filmmaker

The three set up WOW promotions LLC (War of the Worlds) under the leadership of Art Davie, and secured $250,000 from 28 investors. The company stake the investors were given is undisclosed.

They then partnered with Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG), a company well versed in the pay-per-view business, to help with the promotion of the first UFC event as well as invest a further $450,000 which they secured from BMG.

The venture was split 50/50 between WOW promotions and SEG, with Bob Meyrowitz, David Isaacs, and Campbell Mclaren joining from SEG to increase the founders to 6.

Despite a great start to life for the UFC, the promotion started to receive wide backlash after UFC 1 from political authorities for the extreme violence the no holds barred ruleset was producing, causing 36 states to ban NHB fighting.

Suspecting an imminent demise, Art Davie and Rorion Gracie sold their 50% share and disbanded WOW promotions in 1995, meaning SEG now had 100% ownership of the franchise.

The details of the sale were undisclosed, but as it was only 2 years after WOW promotions were founded and how they wanted out of the business, it’s likely to have been a small price.

SEG UFC Owners (1993-2001) & the Second UFC Sale

The original 3 UFC owners had sold their 50% position, and the negative press and stigma surrounding the promotion continued.

SEG managed to run the UFC for another 6 years but was bleeding money and heading for bankruptcy – they needed to sell the promotion.

Dana White found out about the sale early because he was managing UFC fighters at the time. He told his childhood friends, the Fertitta brothers, to purchase the UFC as he saw it as a unique opportunity at a cheap price.

The Fertitta brothers trusted Dana White and bought the UFC for $2 million in 2001, which represented the second UFC sale and the second change of ownership in 8 years.

The Bottom Line

So, who owns the UFC?

The current UFC owners are Endeavour Group Holdings, which has held a 50.1% majority stake since 2016 and became 100% UFC owners in 2021 after Endeavor took the company public with an IPO.

In 2017, Endeavor bought out the minority shareholders such as the Abu Dhabi government and the Fertitta brothers, increasing its share to 65.9%.

When Endeavor bought the UFC for $4 billion in 2016, this was the third time the UFC ownership had changed. The second time ownership changed was when the Fertitta brothers bought the UFC in 2001, from then owners SEG.

The first ownership change was complete when SEG became 100% owners after the original 3 owners, Art Davie, Rorion Gracie, and John Milius sold their 50% stake in 1995.

They sold their stake as they believed the UFC to be a failed business heading towards bankruptcy, due to all the negative press and political pressure on the promotion since the beginning.

You may also be interested in a detailed UFC history on how the UFC started and progressed to what it is today.

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