The owners of the UFC, Zuffa LLC, are reportedly in talks to sell the promotion.
It is understood that at least four bidders – WME/IMG, China Media Capital, The Blackstone Group and Dalian Wanda Group – have voiced their interest in purchasing the business.
According to multiple sources with information regarding the negotiations, the winning bid is expected to be between $3.5 billion and $4 billion.
When questioned about the proceedings, David Sholler, vice president of public relations and athlete marketing for the UFC, told reporters: “As a private company, we don’t discuss speculation or rumors related to our business.”
Zuffa LLC, headed by the Fertitta brothers, Lorenzo and Frank, bought the UFC in 2001 for just $2 million, but now appear set to sell the business to Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, who are considered to be the frontrunners in the race to buy the promotion.
Dalian Wanda have dabbled in sports in the past, and last year bought a 20 per cent stake in La Liga club Atletico Madrid for a reported $48 million. The company’s chairman, Wang Jianlin, is said to be the richest man in China and, according to Forbes Magazine, is worth approximately $35 billion.
Meanwhile, WME/IMG own media properties and represent athletes, including former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, are also interested in purchasing the promotion and a senior executive at the company, David Blitzer, owns minority stakes in Premier League club Crystal Palace, NHL franchise the New Jersey Devils and NBA outfit the Philadelphia 76ers.
Together with with Chinese investment group Citic Capital, China Media Capital own a 13 per cent stake in Premier League club Manchester City, which reportedly cost them $400 million. Furthermore, China Media Capital secured the rights to broadcast the Chinese Super League in China.