UFC boss denies report of China sale

LOS ANGELES • The head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world's largest mixed martial arts organisation, on Tuesday denied a report that the group is poised to be sold to a Chinese conglomerate.

UFC president Dana White told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that an ESPN.com report detailing a possible multi-billion-dollar sale was wide of the mark.

"The UFC is not for sale," the Review-Journal quoted White as saying.

"The ESPN story is overblown," he said, adding that the facts of the ESPN story "could not be further off".

ESPN earlier reported that UFC's parent company Zuffa was in "advanced talks" to sell the company, valued at between US$3.5 billion (S$4.7 billion) and US$4 billion.

Zuffa had attracted interest from at least four possible buyers, the report said.

ESPN also reported that Chinese giant Dalian Wanda, owned by billionaire tycoon Wang Jianlin, was behind the possible takeover.

Negotiations are ongoing and could be finalised by the end of July, the report added.

Led by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, who own 81 per cent of UFC, Zuffa purchased the organisation from Semaphore Entertainment in 2001 for only US$2 million.

White has a 9 per cent share in the company, while the Abu Dhabi-based Flash Entertainment owns 10 per cent.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'UFC boss denies report of China sale'. Print Edition | Subscribe