Over the last two decades, the UFC’s value jumped from $2 million to approximately $9-10 billion, which is an increase of around 500 000%, if you can grasp that.
Who is the man who skyrocketed the popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship? Is Dana White the head honcho of the greatest mixed martial arts promotion in the world or the situation is different? The question is, who owns UFC, earning that kind of money from it? Please read this article and don’t get shocked when you find out who owns UFC!
The true answer is – the Endeavor group via Zuffa, LLC owns 50.1% of UFC, making them the key decision-makers. The remaining 49.9% are dispersed between Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital.
So Dana White doesn’t own the fastest-rising mixed martial arts promotion in the world. Although most people think that Dana White is the one who owns UFC, Dana White is only its president and has an undisclosed percentage of the business.
However, Endeavor plans on buying out the entire company soon, claiming 100% of the ownership. Mixed martial arts is getting more and more popular all over the globe, so this move could lead to even greater popularity for the company, especially if legendary Dana White remains the company’s president!
Is Dana White the Owner of the UFC?
A lot of people think that Dana White is the owner of the UFC. But the truth behind the “who owns UFC” syntax is kinda different. Actually, there were many owners in the past – Fertitta brothers, Endeavor group, Silver Lake Partners… but Dana White has never been the true owner of the greatest mixed martial arts promotion!
Here is a chronological order. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was transitioning through a very hard period in its early stages and the first UFC event in 1993, but the year 2001 and the arrival of the Fertitta brothers changed everything. The UFC was fighting to avoid bankruptcy, but since 2001, when the Fertitta brothers (a childhood friend of Dana White) bought the UFC, Dana White serves as the company’s president.
That doesn’t mean he is the owner, though. Dana White is in charge of all the operations in the greatest mixed martial arts promotion, though.
That means he’s the one making fights happen, scouting for talent, making sponsorship deals, deciding where to invest, finding venues, cooperating with Athletic Commissions, and all the other business-related activities inside the promotion.
For example, Dana White is in charge of matchmaking and paring combatants and setting fights, but he cannot affect judges’ scorecards or referees, as they are chosen by the governing athletic commissions (for example, Las Vegas events are judged by Nevada State athletic commissions’ judges because the “Sin City” belongs to the state of Nevada).
Why am I writing this? I have seen many people blaming Dana for horrible judges and obvious robberies. Not true buddies, I gave you an example, when the event takes place in Las Vegas, the Nevada Athletic Commission determines referees and judges, they have nothing to do with Dana White at any UFC event! Don’t just listen to the random MMA news, be aware that Dana has nothing to do with the judges!
The Fertitta brothers era lasted for nearly 15 years. Before 2016, when the Fertitta brothers sold the company to Endeavor, White had a 9% ownership.
The company was sold for just over $4 billion, meaning that Dana White earned around $360 million from the Ultimate Fighting Championship deal with the Endeavor group.
The best part for White, though, is that he was kept in his position as the UFC president, and the new deal gave him ownership rights in the company.
However, the percentage was non-disclosed, so we don’t know how much of the UFC is currently in White’s hands. Dana White is still in charge of the key aspects of the promotion, and nothing happens before he says “yes”. The fastest-growing mixed martial arts promotion is technically in his hands as he’s the man who gives the green light for every single move related to UFC events.
While Dana White earns money as a part-owner (a small percentage of the company stocks) of the greatest mixed martial arts promotion in the world, he also earns as the president, meaning he’s still getting a nice chunk of the profits the company is making.
And, because the UFC is the biggest income-maker for the Endeavor group, and the fact that it’s still one of the fastest-rising sports franchises globally, one can only assume that Dana White is getting paid incredibly well.
Who Currently Owns The UFC?
The majority owner of the UFC today is Endeavor, having 50.1% of ownership.
Endeavor is a Hollywood entertainment company investing in various businesses across the entertainment industry. However, since they bought the UFC, it’s by far their biggest income creator.
That was only furthermore enhanced after the coronavirus pandemic destroyed a lot of their other businesses, making them lose money. A good majority owner lead to the huge rise of the promotion, even during the horrible days of one of the greatest pandemics that shocked the world.
Before the pandemic, UFC accounted for 50% of Endeavor’s income, while the pandemic increased that number to around 80%.
The UFC is one of the few companies in the world (especially in the entertainment and sports industry) that hasn’t been highly affected by the pandemic. Yes, there haven’t been UFC events for around two months, but the Ultimate Fighting Championship didn’t cease to exist because of one of the worst scenarios after World War II! The whole world of martial arts was brought to a halt!
The Ultimate Fighting Championship had a two-month break when the global pandemic started but quickly adjusted and continued holding events almost every weekend, just like they did before the virus outbreak. There were even UFC events on Wednesdays and other working days because the Ultimate Fighting Championship didn’t want to disappoint their fans.
The Endeavor Group Holdings, formerly known as WME-IMG, bought a majority stake of Zuffa, LLC, the UFC’s parent company, from the Fertitta brothers for a bit more than $4 billion.
They are the majority owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the moment, sharing ownership rights with Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital.
It is believed that the company is worth around double the amount that Endeavor and partners paid in 2016. However, the exact net worth hasn’t been disclosed.
Also, the ownership percentages might soon change due to an agreement reached on February 16th, 2021, but we’ll get into that a bit later.
How Much Money Is the UFC Worth?
As I stated before, the UFC is one of the fastest-rising franchises globally, with its values exponentially growing year after year. The quickest-growing mixed martial arts promotion in the world survived the CoVid pandemic and does even better now thanks to the great leadership of Dana White and other executives.
So, how much money is the Ultimate Fighting Championship really worth? The best way to find out is by looking at its ownership history.
In 2001, the Fertitta brothers bought the company for around $2 million. These were the darkest years of the Ultimate Fighting Championship due to the financial crisis. You couldn’t see more than 3-4 events per year, fans knew nothing about the fighters, and paychecks were very low. Also, the fighters who won the tournaments were not superstars as social media appeared later.
The greatest mixed martial arts promotion was fighting for survival back in 2001, as it wasn’t really popular in the world of combat sports.
They lacked star power and proper management, but as the Fertitta brothers took over with Dana White serving as the president, the popularity just kept on rising.
Dana White was an extremely ambitious person. Upon his arrival, the number of events per year significantly increased, which led to a greater number of Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view buys.
The UFC head honcho brought more money to the promotion because people were interested to watch the combats both in person and on UFC Fight Pass or other platforms, depending on their geolocations. The popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship literally skyrocketed when the increase in the number of events happened.
Dana White even came up with the idea to host The Ultimate Fighter, a show where the low-level fighters are going to be guided by the UFC champs and the best would get the Ultimate Fighting Championship contract. This idea was well accepted in the UFC circuits, and you’ve had many great Ultimate Fighter champions.
For example, legendary Nate Diaz is The Ultimate Fighter 5 tournament winner. The former UFC light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans was discovered at Ultimate Fighter 2, while one of the most popular color commentators and the former Ultimate Fighting Championship 185-pound king, Michael Bisping, appeared at the TUF 3 season.
Fast forward fifteen years and the Fertitta brothers decided to sell the company. They sold it to the Endeavor Group Holdings for $4.025 billion, a value increase of approximately 200 000%.
From that moment moving forward, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is reaching new heights every year, increasing in popularity, ultimately leading to a huge increase in value. It became by far the fastest-growing promotion in the world of martial arts.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship made some incredible deals, such as transitioning from FOX to ESPN, developing the UFC Fight Pass (monthly subscription to their events), and more.
The UFC Fight Pass allows you to watch every single preliminary card and some main cards, but you can also re-watch every single event or fight in the history of UFC. Plus, you can follow other minor promotions and fish for prospects and the fresh UFC blood – this project brought extra income to the promotion too!
While the exact value isn’t fully disclosed, the company is worth somewhere in the $7-10 billion range. The fluctuations are high because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, if the existing trends continue, UFC can lead mixed martial arts toward becoming the most popular combat sport in the world.
It’s a dead race between boxing and MMA right now, but the gap is closing quickly because boxing’s popularity is stagnant over the last few years, while the UFC and MMA keep growing, especially thanks to Dana White and the Endeavor Group.
Boxing is still the most popular combat sport, selling the most PPVs, but we could see that change sooner rather than later. So many million dollars were invested in the fastest-growing MMA organization in the world, they might take over the market in the years to come!
How Did Dana White Become the UFC president?
Dana White is the face of the UFC for two decades now.
He is undoubtedly one of the main reasons the company enjoys such exponential growth in popularity and value.
But, how exactly did he become the UFC president? Did Dana White always have such a great life? Well, the answer is no! Just like every single American businessman, the head honcho of the greatest MMA promotion in the world had to deal with hard periods throughout his life.
Dana White was born in Manchester, Connecticut, in 1969. The UFC president spent his early childhood in the city of Ware, Massachusetts. Interestingly, he has never ended college and worked numerous jobs before becoming the president of the fastest-growing MMA promotion in the world. Some of them included laying asphalt, working as a bouncer, and being a bellhop.
White entered the world of martial arts when he was 17 when he started training in boxing. It looked like a great call, as there was no UFC back then, only Vale Tudo existed and some other free forms of fighting similar to MMA.
White owed money to Whitey Bulger, the legendary mobster, and was unable to pay his debts, which forced him to make his move to Las Vegas, where his career really started to blossom. While he was still an active fighter, he made real noise as a manager.
Prior to 2001, there was no Dana in the UFC. The people who created the promotion are Art Davie, Bob Meyrowitz, Ryan Troutsdale, Campbell McLaren, David Isaacs, John Milius, and Rorion Gracie. When Dana heard that the UFC was going for sale in 2001, he saw it as a huge business opportunity.
He called his childhood friends, the Fertitta brothers, and proposed going into the ownership business together. They agreed on terms and later purchased the MMA organization for $2 million and put Dana White as the president of the company. He also received a 9% share of the ownership, while the brothers had around 80%.
Dana is responsible for the creation of some of the first global MMA stars – Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and others.
He was the manager for several big names in the sport, most notably the UFC champions Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Chuck Liddell Vs Tito Ortiz was the first big rivalry in the history of the promotion. It led to selling an enormous amount of pay-per-view buys at UFC 47 and UFC 66. Ask any historian about these two fight events, they will tell you it is remembered by a beef history between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell.
Obviously, White did an amazing job as the company president because the UFC was sold in 2016, but the new owners still kept Dana as their president.
The deal happened on July 9, 2016, when the UFC would be sold to a group led by WME–IMG, which was owned by Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital, for around $4.025 billion. It was one of the greatest acquisitions in the sport back then. WME-IMG changed its name to Endeavor group in 2017. And it seems the new owners plan to keep Dana as the UFC head honcho for a long time in the future.
It’s unlikely to see a change in that position any time soon because the company is still growing despite all the economic difficulties the entire entertainment industry found itself in during the coronavirus pandemic. Fight events are getting more and more views, and compared to, for example, a UFC event from 2012, the popularity is at least 1000% bigger.
While we don’t know exactly how much ownership White has in the company, it’s almost certain he has a nice chunk of the profits to his name.
He had 9% ownership when the Fertitta brothers were the owners, and that number today is probably about the same.
Who Owns The Majority Of The UFC? [Ownership Percentages]
The ownership distribution within the greatest MMA promotion in the world isn’t fully disclosed to the public, but some facts are known.
The owner of the UFC is Endeavor Group Holding which has a 50.1% market share.
At the moment, Endeavor Group Holding is the majority owners, as the remaining 49.9% is divided between Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital via Zuffa, LLC, along with minor stockholders.
We don’t know how big of a percentage Dana White has, but the entire situation could change very soon.
According to an SEC filing, the company reached an agreement on February 16, 2021, that will make Endeavor a 100% owner in the near future.  The company plans on going public via an initial public offering (IPO).
A similar agreement was in place in 2019, but it never came to fruition because Endeavor pulled back last minute due to the lack of investor demand at the time.
The agreement reached in February 2021, per the SEC filing, suggests that Endeavor has to raise at least $1.75 billion to buy out the remainder of the ownership percentage of the UFC, making them 100% owners.
It’s unknown if White would retain a percentage of the ownership in that case. But it is believed that Dana White is going to remain president of the UFC for a long time thanks to his great talking and marketing skills. He’s got over 10 million followers on Twitter and Instagram, which speaks about his social media power.
If Endeavor fails to raise that much money from the IPO and yet again doesn’t go public, the agreement won’t go through.
However, it’s a very unlikely scenario this time because the same SEC filing reported that one of the biggest business moguls in the world, Elon Musk (currently the Twitter head executive), joined Endeavor’s board of directors.
It’s unclear what a 100% Endeavor ownership would mean for the UFC, but the fans likely won’t know the difference, and the company will just keep on rising, as it has over the last two decades.
The fans only care about good fights and bloody and battered wars. They are ready to give more money for live events and cable pay per view if the promotion continues to bring stars and great prospects and trash-talking experts inside the Octagon.
The UFC is losing a lot of cable pay per view buys due to illegal streamers in the last few years, as many people don’t want to pay the UFC on Fight Pass, but the company’s president said on many occasions. One streamer got his illegal service removed, but it is just the beginning because new generations are coming. If the UFC deals with this problem, they might earn even more money in the future.
Who Is The Founder Of The UFC?
The UFC was founded by businessman Art Davie and Brazilian martial artist Rorion Gracie. Other people who helped in creating UFC are Bob Meyrowitz, Ryan Troutsdale, Campbell McLaren, David Isaacs, and John Milius. The first UFC event was held in 1993 at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado.
UFC Rule Revolution
The first UFC event was very brutal, as there were only two rules – no biting or eye-gauging. In the first UFC combat, Gerard Gordeau kicked Teila Tuli in the mouth while the Sumo wrestler was on his knees. Tuli’s teeth went flying and Gordeau hurt his foot badly.
We’ve also seen a one-glove boxer Art Jimmerson, who lost in the first round of the first UFC event to the BJJ specialist Royce Gracie, who later won the tournament by submitting Gerard Gordeau in the finals. There were collisions of different disciplines in the early stages of the UFC.
The UFC held the UFC 2 event shortly after, and there was a massive controversy in the first fight, as the rules only allowed the ref to stop the fight when the fighter was knocked out cold or when he tapped. Alternately, the corner had the right to throw in the towel, but MMA looked more like a street fight, there was no spirit of sports at all.
Big John McCarthy started yelling when Patrick Smith was on top of Scott Morris, landing ground and pound bombs, and Smith started celebrating thinking he won the fight. That rule was changed later, and the ref go the right to stop the fight and prevent fighters from eating unnecessary shots to the head.
Another big controversy happened at UFC 3, when the popular “Ninja Cop” Steve Jennum won the sports tournament after only one fight, because Ken Shamrock reached the finals, but was unable to fight due to injuries. Jennum defeated Harold Howard and became the tournament king, but that rule was changed later.
The UFC 4 brought a fight between Keith Hackney and Joe Son, which was later infamous due to the rule that allowed groin strikes. Hackney unloaded a barrage of punches to Son’s family jewels, so Son had to let the guillotine choke go and Hackney forced him to tap out after a choke. This rule was changed later.
In the next few years, headbutts were prohibited, alongside striking your opponent to the back of the head or spine.
The arrival of Dana White as the president led to the real business era of the UFC, as many rules were changed. For example, fighters could stall on the canvas before 2001 for ages, but nowadays, the referee stands them up and breaks them up when they are pressed against the cage.
Also, you are not allowed to get an unfair advantage by holding your opponent’s shorts or gloves, plus you can’t knee the downed opponent or land a soccer kick or a foot stomp to the head of the downed fighters.
Let’s hope Dana White is going to remain president in the future. He helped the fastest-growing MMA promotion in the world to avoid bankruptcy, skyrocketed its popularity, and turned the sport into a great business.
The popularity of UFC and its fighters will continue to grow in the days to come, the promotion survived the CoVid era without harsh losses – now it’s stronger than ever thanks to the ownership of the right people!