UFC owner discusses why he sold off 10% chunk of company to Abu Dhabi firm
Ultimate Fighting Championship co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told The Times his decision to sell off a 10% share of his company to Abu Dhabi's Flash Entertainment this week was a "strategic" decision more than one based on any financial trouble the mixed-martial-arts organization of Fertitta's debt-ridden Station Casinos was dealing with.
"It's totally separate," Fertitta said. "We've been approached by numerous private equity funds, and investment banks trying to take us public. Finding money wasn't the problem. It was about finding the right partner."
Fertitta and UFC President Dana White took several trips to the United Arab Emirates in recent months, and the speculation was they were working to place one of their monthly fights there.
"Our next targets [to stage UFC cards] are Asia, India and the Middle East," Fertitta said. Flash "came to us and said, 'We'd love to buy a 10% interest in your company and help you grow in those markets.' It made a lot of sense, and it will help us accelerate what we are doing. There are complex, different cultures that we'll be dealing with, and we view this as a positive for the UFC and mixed martial arts."
Fertitta and White appeared on CNBC on Tuesday and further discussed the transaction.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Lorenzo Fertitta. Credit: Courtesy of UFC