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UFC welcomes string of celebrity investors

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and actor Mark Wahlberg are among the names.

MMA fighters
UFC was sold to WME-IMG for US$4bn earlier this year

23 celebrities have invested in the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) it was revealed Friday.

Among the names are tennis players Maria Sharapova, and the Williams sisters, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, actors Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck, musicians Adam Levine and LL Cool J, as well as talk show host Conan O’Brien.

William Morris Endeavor (WME), along with International Management Group (IMG), bought UFC back in July for an estimated US$4bn back in July. Silver Lake Partners and KKR are along as investors, as are MSD Capital/MSD Partners.

WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel said the 23 celebrities were easy to source.

“They would always ask for tickets,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

WME-IMG wants to see more UFC fighters cross over to other forms of entertainment, so the board must be rubbing their hands at the added celebrity endorsement.

Lorenzo and Frank Ferttita purchased the UFC for $2mln back in 2001 from Semaphore Entertainment Group.

The US$4bn sale - the largest for a franchise in sports history – was an increase of nearly 200,000% on the original price tag.

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