UFC today has 442 fighters from 38 countries under contract and will host 14 pay-per-view events this year, bringing in $500 million in annual sales. The Las Vegas-based company signed a seven-year television contract with News Corp.’s Fox Media Group in July 2011, and its content, broadcast in 19 languages, is available to more than 1 billion homes in 148 countries and territories.
That’s a long way from 2001, when brothers Frank Fertitta III, now 50, and Lorenzo Fertitta, 43, heirs to their father’s casino business, bought UFC for $2 million [giving Dana White a 10 percent cut to serve as president, and investing another $38 million to rehabilitate the sport].
Brutal or not, Ultimate Fighting has made Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta billionaires. Each owns 40.5 percent of Zuffa LLC — named after the Italian word for fight — the private company that controls UFC. Flash Entertainment, an Abu Dhabi government investment company, bought 10 percent in 2009 in a deal that valued Zuffa at more than $2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named.
Each Fertitta controls a fortune worth at least $1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In addition to their company stakes, they own real estate, art and four jet planes. The brothers hold their assets separately and through family trusts, they say. Las Vegas-based Fertitta Enterprises Inc., a single-family office that employs about 60 people, manages the Fertittas’ wealth. The office staff vets investment opportunities (it turned down a chance to buy stock in Facebook Inc. before its public offering), handles art transactions (each brother has a collection of art worth more than $100 million) and arranges for personal security.