Sources: UFC Sale Completed to William Morris Endeavor-led Group

Despite proclamations to the contrary by the promotion, sources have indicated the UFC has indeed been sold by long-time owners Zuffa LLC to an investment group led by the William Morris Endeavor-IMG agency. 

Multiple sources confirmed the news to FloCombat early Wednesday morning. Text messages to UFC President Dana White and Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler requesting comment went unanswered as of press time. 

Our sources said that the basics of the deal was finalized during a dinner meeting in Hollywood last Sunday between Lorenzo Fertitta, Ari Emanuel—the CEO of WME-IMG and one of the most powerful men in entertainment—and other UFC and WME-IMG executives. The exact sale figure is not known at this time, though FloCombat sources indicated it is in the range of $4 billion US dollars.

Months ago, the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs was tasked with handling a sealed bidding process for prospective buyers to submit purchasing bids. The winning investment group also includes Dalian Wanda, China's largest commercial property owner and operator of the largest chain of movie theaters in the world; Tencent, the owner of China's largest internet portal and search engine; and the Kraft Group, the owners of American sports franchises including the New England Patriots.

On June 9, Variety reported that WME-IMG announced a "joint venture" with Sequoia Capital China that would allow WME/IMG to quickly accelerate growth in one of the world's toughest international markets to penetrate. WME/IMG already has a significant presence in the Chinese market, however, with recent investments in the Chinese Super League and mass athletic competitions such as Tough Mudder.

Combine WME/IMG's already stable presence in the Chinese market with the massive power of Tencent's internet power, and it's easy to see why a purchase of the UFC was considered an attractive proposition. Mainland China is the last remaining untapped market for the UFC, and the new China-heavy ownership will have an easier time running events on the mainland rather than on the offshore island of Macau. 

FloCombat sources previously indicated that 100% of the UFC was involved in the sale, and that the Fertitta Brothers would leave the UFC to focus on the expansion of their Las Vegas casino empire. White, who owns approximately 8.89% of the company, was said to be cashing out to the tune of $320 million US dollars. But our sources also said that the new ownership group would grant White a new ownership stake in order to entice him to continue in his role as president and promoter. 

As far as Fertitta's CEO role is concerned, several names have been mentioned by our sources. One is Garry Cook, the former executive of the Manchester City Football Club. Another potential CEO candidate is Emanuel himself, though with his busy schedule it would be difficult to imagine him having the time to devote to running the UFC's business operations. 

The new ownership will not take effect until all paperwork is finalized. But multiple sources told FloCombat that an announcement of the sale is expected to take place at some point during the UFC's upcoming International Fight Week in July, which is capped off by a massive UFC 200 card featuring three title fights and the return of former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. 

Stay tuned for updates to this story with developments as they occur. 

Mike Kimbel Says Bellator 215 Opponent John Douma 'Has Nothing To Lose'

In a total of 69 seconds of professional competition time, Bellator MMA bantamweight Mike Kimbel has made quite the statement.

John Douma Eager To Upset Mike Kimbel At Bellator 215

Friday night could prove life-changing for New England bantamweight John Douma (3-1).

Bellator 215's Toby Misech: 'I'm Not Scared' Of Eduardo Dantas

Toby Misech (11-6) has finally made it. He can officially call a major promotion his home. Signing a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA earlier this year, the son of Hawaii has already checked an item off his bucket list.

Vicente Luque Thinks Ranked Fighters Fear Him: 'They Think I'm A Risk'

The welterweight division has quietly become one of the most stacked weight classes in the UFC. Not only is there an abundance of challengers at the top waiting for the next crack at champion Tyron Woodley, but there are a number of worthy fighters just on the cusp of getting that number next to their name. 

Top Turtle MMA Podcast: Top 5 Fighters Turned Announcers

The UFC debuts on big ESPN Feb. 17 in Phoenix, and the Top Turtle MMA Podcast on FloCombat has all the goods around that card. 

UFC 234: Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya Live Updates From Melbourne

Wombat Jones is on the scene in Melbourne, Australia, for UFC 234, where Anderson Silva faces Israel Adesanya in the night's main event. 

Max Griffin: 'I Spoke To Thiago Alves, His Coach... Everyone Agrees I Won'

Max Griffin didn’t exactly have the best time in Fortaleza, Brazil. Despite nearly finishing Thiago Alves when the bell sounded in the first and spending large portions of the third round in top control, the judges saw the UFC Fight Night 144 bout in favor of Alves, who just so happens to be from Fortaleza. 

Top Turtle MMA Podcast: Ranking Top 5 Australia, New Zealand Prospects

On this week’s Top Turtle MMA Podcast on FloCombat, “Gumby” and Dave discuss the fallout from UFC Fortaleza. From Jose Aldo’s refusal to go quietly into the night to the rapid ascension of Johnny Walker, we’ve got it all. 

Job Saved, Austin Arnett Looks For First UFC Finish At UFC 234

This past November, Austin Arnett lived out a dream.

Devonte Smith Starstruck By Anderson Silva But Ready For UFC 234 Scrap

There aren’t many situations where UFC lightweight Devonte Smith would find himself starstruck. During this week’s UFC 234 fight preparations in Melbourne, Australia, however, Smith can almost guarantee he’ll be in awe.