Reports last week that Beverly Hills talent agency WME/IMG has raised $1.1 billion from two international investors to buy out some of its UFC minority partners stirred some speculation that UFC President Dana White might leave.
“I’m not going anywhere, brother,” White told the Los Angeles Times. “Not only am I not going anywhere, I’m actually making moves in the office and doing (stuff) and changing things for the way I really want it.”
“I’m burrowing myself in like a … tick.”
WME/IMG announced last week that Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Government of Singapore Investment Fund will join WME/IMG primary stakeholder Silver Lake Partners as strategic partners.
In a letter to its shareholders, Silver Lake Partners reported WME/IMG, headed by Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, who bought the UFC in July 2016 for $4 billion, will use the $1.1 billion to buy out some minority partners. The transaction is set to close this month.
Emanuel entered the UFC business originally by helping former UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta land a television network deal with Fox.
Under WME/IMG ownership, the UFC entered into a first-ever cross-promotion with another company by agreeing to let Showtime televise the Aug. 26 pay-per-view boxing match between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor and unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Current light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been among those contending Emanuel is now the true “boss” of the UFC, a swipe at White’s pride in a relationship that has been watched closely since White pocketed $400 million from last year’s sale and could conceivably leave at any time for another pursuit.
“Ari and I are partners. We’re getting involved in more (stuff). We’re not going to spend a lot of money and not change things,” White said. “I’m making a lot of changes in this new building for things I want changed.”