WME-IMG hoped to self-finance the transaction to obtain the UFC from Zuffa and some of the investors are well-known celebrities. When negotiations to buy the UFC were ongoing there were reports that the Kraft Group, run by Robert Kraft who also owns the New England Patriots, and other famous individuals including those represented by Ari Emanuel were willing to invest in the venture.
The celebrities invested in the UFC are:
Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, Adam Levine, Anthony Kiedis, Ben Affleck, Calvin Harris, Cam Newton, Conan O’Brien, Flea, Guy Fieri, Jimmy Kimmel, Li Na, LL COOL J, Maria Sharapova, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Rob Dyrdek, Robert Kraft, Serena Williams, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Brady, Trey Parker, Tyler Perry and Venus Williams are the latest to join UFC’s ownership group. In July 2016, global entertainment and sports leader WME | IMG – joined by Silver Lake Partners, KKR, MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P. – announced it would acquire UFC®, the world’s premier professional mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.
Combat sports have always had a fascination with celebrities who are fight fans. In-between fights on PPV programming the cameras often highlight the celebrities sitting around the arena. The UFC also targeted celebrities to get them to tweet about the UFC fights.
These celebrities have huge followings and avid fans. With a financial interest in the UFC being successful it wouldn’t be surprising to see celebrites lend their star power to promote events and do cross-promotions with the company. The involvement of the A-list celebrities could help determine if the UFC is able to break into the mainstream on a regular basis.