Last night on TBS' Conan Show, host and comedian Conan O'Brien revealed that he, among other celebrities, are part-owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This landmark announcement comes on the heels of the purchase of the UFC by WME | IMG and its partners in July.
Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, Adam Levine, Anthony Kiedis, Ben Affleck, Calvin Harris, Cam Newton, Conan O’Brien, Flea, Guy Fieri, Jimmy Kimmel, Li Na, LL COOL J, Maria Sharapova, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Rob Dyrdek, Robert Kraft, Serena Williams, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Brady, Trey Parker, Tyler Perry and Venus Williams are the latest to join UFC’s ownership group.
In July 2016, global entertainment and sports leader WME | IMG – joined by Silver Lake Partners, KKR, MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P. – announced it would acquire the UFC.
“Expanding our ownership group to include this caliber of talent and entrepreneurs is a strong indicator of UFC’s fast-growing global presence,” UFC President Dana White said in making the announcement. “Our new investors bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to help us continue to elevate this brand and capitalize on its entertainment and sports crossover appeal.”
With the departure of founders and primary investors Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who also own the Station Casinos in Las Vegas, there have been many moves made by the organization.
Recently, longtime matchmaker Joe Silva left, deferring his duties to protege, Sean Shelby. This new restructuring and influx of famous, culturally impactful investors will certainly impact the value of the organization, allowing the formerly obscure business of mixed martial arts to continue its explosive growth obtain more positive attention.
“Recently, entertainment giants IMG and William Morris Endeavor (WME) purchased the UFC,” O’Brien said. “It was one of the biggest transactions in the entire history of sports. I happen to be represented by William Morris Endeavor, and these guys do a terrific job. After the UFC deal was announced, WME gave some of their clients an opportunity to purchase a small ownership stake in the UFC, and I’m excited to say that I’m one of those clients."
Stay tuned to MMA fighters now beginning to crossover en masse and bleed much more into popular culture.