Sports Business Ultimate Fighting

The UFC Sells a 10% Share.

Yesterday, details were announced in the deal that gives United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) company, Flash Entertainment, a 10% share in the UFC. The UFC has been searching for a strategical partner to expand their brand while not telling them how to run their business, and have seemed to find their perfect match in Flash Entertainment. Last week it was reported that the UFC had sold this share to Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the U.A.E., but as details emerged, it was revealed that it was actually a deal with his company Flash Entertainment, which is owned, on record, by the U.A.E. Government. From what I have read Sheikh Tahnoon is an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts, a black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu under Renzo Gracie, and the founder of the Abu Dabi Combat Club.

This deal surprised me at first, but based on what I have read about the budding relationship between Sheikh Tahnoon and UFC ownership and the possibilities that this partnership could bring on a global level, it makes more and more sense. When asked about how he envisioned this would affect the operations of the UFC, UFC President Dana White replied:

“It affects it positively. As for the day to day and how everything runs, it’s business as usual. Strategically, in our global expansion, it’s gonna help us get to certain places a lot faster than we could have done it. “

“We view this as the perfect strategic partnership to help us grow this business and fast track our expansion into other parts of the world. There are a lot of guys over the last nine years that have tried to buy in, invest, get us to go public, and try to partner up with the UFC. We got in this thing because we love this sport, we love the UFC, and we have this vision to take this thing globally and turn it into the biggest sport in the world. And when I say that, I know people think I’m a lunatic, but it’s true, and it’s gonna happen. So this deal is a perfect strategic partnership. These guys are awesome strategic partners to help us reach that goal even faster. “

The UFC comes to Abu Dabi in April for UFC 112, and based on how they have done business in the past, I would say that Dana White and the Fertitta brothers are very comfortable with Sheikh Tahnoon and his company, Flash Entertainment, because the UFC has never been a company to hide its feelings or sugar coat anything so. I  believe that if the deal wasn’t perfect, then they would not be on board. I look forward to the UFC continuing to expand into a globally recognized sport and company, and I hope this was a smart deal to get them to reach their goals. This is certainly a big way to start of 2010 for the UFC and it will be interesting to see the fruits of this deal in years to come.

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