With participation from Silver Lake, KKR and Michael Dell, Hollywood talent agency WME | IMG has agreed to pay a reported $4 billion to acquire UFC, a mixed martial-arts organization that held its 200th flagship event Saturday. UFC president Dana White, who helped acquire the company for $2 million in 2001, will remain in his current role. WME | IMG was formed in 2014 via a combination of William Morris Endeavor and IMG; Silver Lake has backed William Morris since 2012.
Since its merger, WME | IMG has been highly acquisitive, striking deals last year for Professional Bull Riders and the Miss Universe Pageant. The agency has represented UFC for the past decade-plus and also represents some of the organization’s elite athletes, such as Ronda Rousey. The transaction only adds to WME | IMG’s standing as a powerhouse in the world of sports; the agency’s other clients include Wimbledon, the NFL and the English Premier League.