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Is UFC Really Worth More Than $1 Billion?

In 2001, brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta paid $2 million for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, at the time a mixed martial arts promotion that was in serious danger of being shut down by the government. How much is that investment worth now?

In a Forbes article about UFC (via Fight Opinion), the Fertittas say they have turned down offers of more than $1 billion from private equity and media firms to sell UFC. I'm a little skeptical of that claim, seeing as WWE, which has a very similar business model to UFC (live gate, cable TV, pay-per-view), is worth only $1.4 billion in market capitalization and has about twice UFC's annual revenue of $250 million.

On the other hand, mixed martial arts is growing faster than professional wrestling is, and Saturday night's UFC 83 will be one of its most profitable events to date. Maybe within a year or two, UFC will have grown to such a level that $1 billion looks paltry.

In any event, there's no doubt that the Fertittas made a very smart decision when they bought UFC and a very smart decision when they let Dana White run it. Say what you will about White, but the Forbes article is yet another example of the incredible impact he has had on the sport.

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