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UFC sold for $4 billion; Dana White to stay on as president

Additional notes added by Dave Meltzer.

After months of speculation, the UFC has officially been sold.

The New York Times reported late Sunday night that the combat sports organization had been sold for over $4 billion to a group led by William Morris Endeavor (WME) and International Management Group (IMG).  WME/IMG is the same group that Jeremy Botter reported UFC being sold to a few weeks ago.

The papers for the sale were signed on Saturday, the day of UFC 200. The official announcement is expected to be made as soon as Monday.

WME/IMG, which represents talent including Dwayne Johnson and Ronda Rousey, beat out a conglomerate that included China Media Capital.

Among the financial backers of the deal are said to be Silver Lake, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the investment firm of Michael S. Dell, who will become minority owners. Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell head WME/IMG. 

The Times also reported WME/IMG has gotten financial backing this year for a major sale from SoftBank, a Japanese telecommunications firm and Titan Fidelity.

This marks the second sports property WME/IMG has taken over after purchasing the Professional Bullriders league last year.

The news of the sale was inevitable, but there was some uncertainty over what percentage of the company would be sold and whether Dana White would stay on with the change in ownership.

Both CBS 8 and TMZ confirmed that White will remain in his role as UFC president and that the Fertitta brothers will maintain a small stake in the company. White also told Brett Okamoto of ESPN that his role will be unchanged with him retaining a stake in ownership.

CBS 8 will have exclusive interviews with White and Lorenzo Fertitta on Monday morning.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell first broke the news that the UFC was for sale in May. And after initial denials, it was widely reported that a bid of over $4 billion from the WME/IMG group had been accepted in June.

The Fertitta-led Zuffa corporation originally bought the UFC for $2 million in 2001 and were in charge of the promotion during its rise to national prominence. 

Zuffa had just broken ground on a new campus that was to be its headquarters as well as a state-of-the-art rehab center and training center for its athletes in Las Vegas.

White and Flash Entertainment also had a minority stake in the company and are slated to get a massive payoff with its sale.

White reacted to the sale on Twitter with a smiling face emoji.