The UFC Are The Kings Of Mixed Martial Arts Right Now.
By John Pollock
for In Play! Magazine
Whether you are a fan of the sport or not, when you hear the initials UFC, the images of fights, cages and the foul mouthed president Dana White instantly enter one's mind.
Today, the private company is believed to be worth well in excess of $1 billion under the ownership of Zuffa L.L.C., with interests in the company divided amongst White and casino magnates Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. The company's worth is more astounding when one realizes that Zuffa purchased the company for a mere $2 million in 2001.
The UFC saw great success in the early 90s on pay-per-view as a spectacle sport with its mixture of fighting disciplines marketed as “Two men enter, one man leaves." Needless to say, there was no shame in its presentation.
Pay-per-view numbers aside, the UFC (then under the ownership of the Semaphore Entertainment Group or SEG) was thrown off pay-per-view through the lobbying of Arizona Senator and now Republican presidential hopeful John McCain. The company fell to such lows that when Zuffa came along with their $2 million offer, SEG was more than happy to cash out.
It was not a straight road to prosperity. Zuffa nearly sold the company after losses of $44 million over their first four years of operation from 2001 to 2004.
The saving grace for the company came in the form of a TV deal with Spike TV, the ballsy American cable network looking to compliment their prime property, World Wrestling Entertainment. With the blessing of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Spike debuted “The Ultimate Fighter” on January 18, 2005.
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