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UFC sold to WME-IMG

UFC successfully staged an event in the Philippines in May last year and is set for another fight night on Oct. 16. Dennis Acosta (file photo)

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--In a huge development business-wise, the UFC found a new partner in WME-IMG.

In an official release on Monday, WME-IMG successfully acquired the world's top MMA promotion.

The statement reads, "WME-IMG will serve as UFC's operating partner.... [and] will focus on accelerating the sport's popularity and presence around the world."

The said statement did not disclose how much WME-IMG paid to buy UFC, although multiple reports said that the acquisition was completed for US$4.2 billion.

"We’re committed to pursuing new opportunities for UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport’s continued growth and success on a global scale," said WME-IMG CEO's Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.

“We’re confident that the new ownership team of WME-IMG, with whom we’ve built a strong relationship over the last several years, is committed to accelerating UFC’s global growth,” said Lorenzo Fertitta, who upon the said sale stepped down as UFC's chairman and CEO, although he and brother Frank keep a minority stake in the promotion.

On the other hand, UFC president Dana White, who will stay in his current position, stated, "I’m looking forward to working with WME-IMG to continue to take this sport to the next level."

WME-IMG's acquisition of the UFC came at the heels of the latter's biggest PPV fight card to date, UFC 200, which saw Brock Lesnar's triumphant return to MMA and Amanda Nunes' stunning submission win against Miesha Tate for the UFC women's bantamweight belt.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno