Dana White, UFC president, has rebuffed a report from ESPN that UFC has been put up for sale. The report had earlier said that talks of a sale were already in its advanced stages.
ESPN's Darren Rovell reported last Tuesday that four companies had already placed their bids for UFC. The bidders were identified as WME/IMG, China Media Capital, The Blackstone Group and Dalian Wanda Group. The bids were supposedly in the $3.5-4 billion range.
Yahoo Sports reported that Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME, is a personal friend of Dana White and co-owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. White and the Fertitta brother purchased UFC in 2001 for $2 million.
Rovell additionally reported that Goldman Sachs was the one representing UFC in its sales talks. Goldman Sachs was the UFC's investment adviser in 2010 when Flash Entertainment purchased 10% of the company. Flash Entertainment is a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi government.
UFC has been plagued with rumors regarding its sale since it started raking it in around 10 years ago. White came out with a statement when Yahoo Sports asked for comment. He said curtly, "We are not for sale."
Before Flash Entertainment got into the picture, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta each had 45% while White controlled 10%. The entry of Flash Entertainment meant that each Fertitta brother now only controlled 40.5% each and White now only controlled 9%.
The supposed price of $4 billion probably meant a purchase of the entire company, if it were true. Since White and the Fertitta brothers had agreed to a partner in the form of Flash Entertainment, it was not so farfetched that the company as a whole was being sold.
Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting tweeted that Wanda Group was the frontrunner in the sales talks and the final sale announcement could be made by July of this year.