Following up reports last week of Zuffa selling a chunk of the UFC to Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UFC has publicly released some information on the sale. First, the official statement via UFC.com:
Dana White followed up the announcement with a Q&A on UFC.com to put it all into layman’s terms for the fans. Some highlights:
Why did UFC do this deal?
Dana White: We view this as the perfect strategic partnership to help us grow this business and fast track our expansion into other parts of the world. There are a lot of guys over the last nine years that have tried to buy in, invest, get us to go public, and try to partner up with the UFC. We got in this thing because we love this sport, we love the UFC, and we have this vision to take this thing globally and turn it into the biggest sport in the world. And when I say that, I know people think I’m a lunatic, but it’s true, and it’s gonna happen. So this deal is a perfect strategic partnership. These guys are awesome strategic partners to help us reach that goal even faster.
Who is Flash?
DW: Flash is an independent live events and entertainment organization based in the UAE. Its sole shareholder is the Government of Abu Dhabi. [Ed. note: In other words, Sheikh Tahnoon may not be called out by name, but he's in there somewhere.] We got to know these guys discussing an event in Abu Dhabi. This led to the investment conversation. After conducting in-depth due diligence, they saw the tremendous global potential of the UFC brand. The guys who run this company are young, hip, aggressive visionaries. They are big thinkers.
What is the structure of this deal, what exactly does Flash own?
DW: Flash acquired a 10 percent minority stake through a direct investment in the equity of Zuffa, LLC.
How will this affect the operations of the UFC?
DW: It affects it positively. As for the day to day and how everything runs, it’s business as usual. Strategically, in our global expansion, it’s gonna help us get to certain places a lot faster than we could have done it.
Were there any concerns about bringing another partner into the UFC fold?
DW: I didn’t feel that way at all. I don’t look at this as my baby and nobody else can touch it. The way I look at this thing is that the UFC is a brand, like Microsoft, McDonald’s or any of these other ones. I think that I’m gonna have a certain amount of time here and then my time will be done and I will have done my part. And then somebody else will carry it on after me. I don’t look at this like I’m gonna be here forever. A lot of people say ‘without Dana the UFC couldn’t do this or couldn’t do that.’ I think the UFC is bigger than that and bigger than one person, including me.
Was this deal done because UFC needed money?
DW: UFC has no financial issues and business has never been better. We did this deal because of the huge opportunities it provides for UFC’s global growth.
A few other important points: The sale — which may have gone down as early as October — will dilute all existing owners proportionately. Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta Jr.’s ownership percentages went from 45% apiece to 40.5%. Dana White owned 10% of the company before the sale, and owns approximately 9% now — meaning that Flash Entertainment has a bigger stake in the company than he does. However, Flash will not be able to purchase a larger stake nor sell its interest to a third party. According to Zuffa, there are no plans to sell any more stakes in the UFC. Lorenzo Fertitta believes that Flash can accelerate the UFC’s growth in the Middle East, China, and India.