Endeavor Agrees to Acquire Full Control of UFC After Previously Owning 50.1%

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 31, 2021

An overall, general view of the octagon at UFC Fight Night, Sunday, December 8, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Endeavor, a Hollywood talent agency that currently owns 50.1 percent of the UFC, will increase its stake in the company to 100 percent. 

ESPN's Marc Raimondi reported on an SEC filing which states that Endeavor will raise a minimum of $1.75 billion to purchase a 100 percent stake in UFC prior to the initial public offering.

Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta sold a majority stake in UFC to Endeavor (formerly known as WME-IMG) in July 2016.

A UFC spokesperson declined comment to Raimondi.

The deal will also include a buyout of numerous private equity firms, with Damon Martin of MMA Fighting explaining:

"When Endeavor closed a deal to obtain a controlling interest in the UFC back in 2016 for just over $4 billion, the company partnered with several private equity firms to help raise the cash for the sale. Those private equity companies, including Silver Lake Partners, ended up owning around 40 percent of the UFC as a result.

"This new buyout will now give Endeavor 100 percent controlling interest over the UFC, which helps to sweeten the pot as the company prepares to go public."

Ben Fowlkes of The Athletic then posited what the deal may mean for UFC going forward.

"The UFC has thus far seemed to operate without much outside interference from Endeavor or other owners, and that's likely to continue. But coming so close to Endeavor's planned IPO, there is a strong chance that this will impact attempts by fighters like Jon Jones to get a bigger slice of the revenue pie for major events. Endeavor reportedly hopes that full ownership of the UFC, which proved itself mostly pandemic-proof over the last year, will entice investors when it goes public. But past investors have expressed concern that fighter pay will creep up over time. This gives Endeavor an incentive to keep fighter revenue share relatively low."

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Six different people founded the UFC in 1993, including the legendary Rorion Gracie. The company struggled in its early years and was bought by the Fertitta brothers in Jan. 2001 for $2 million. They turned their $2 million into $4 billion, per Chris Isidore of CNN in 2016.