Last night on his late night television show, comedian Conan O’Brien announced that he had become an investor in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) in a segment during the opening of the show. O’Brien went on to announce that he actually would be fighting in the UFC’s famed Octagon, first against Conor McGregor, then Ronda Rousey, then investor and tennis legend Maria Sharapova.
O’Brien fighting in the Octagon was of course just in jest, but the fact that he is a minority investor is actually true, as revealed in an article by the Wall Street Journal:
Less than three months after being acquired by a major Hollywood talent agency, the UFC is going A-list.
Twenty-three celebrities, including Ben Affleck, Adam Levine and Serena and Venus Williams, are investing in the rapidly expanding sports league, the UFC and its new majority owner WME-IMG said on Thursday.
Bringing on the celebrity investors who can provide promotional muscle for the brutal and fast-growing sport known as mixed martial arts is the most significant business move for the organization since being acquired for $4 billion by WME-IMG and a group of investors in July.
The move is an interesting one by the new ownership group at WWE-IMG. The addition of celebrity investors will obviously bolster the publicity the UFC receives and as investors, the celebrities are more likely to promote the organization than if they were just clients of the ownership group.
Early this morning, the UFC confirmed the addition of the investors in an official press release:
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.
“Expanding our ownership group to include this caliber of talent and entrepreneurs is a strong indicator of UFC’s fast-growing global presence,” UFC President Dana White said. “Our new investors bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to help us continue to elevate this brand and capitalize on its entertainment and sports crossover appeal.”