In 2001, Lorenzo Fertitta—co-owner of the Station Casinos in Las Vegas—bought the Ultimate Fighting Championship for $2 million with his brother, Frank. The fledgling mixed martial arts organization was facing bankruptcy, a victim of its own aggressive marketing, which promised brutality and aroused Sen. John McCain to call for its dismemberment, branding it “human cockfighting.”
The Fertitta brothers, along with high school pal Dana White, whom the brothers installed as president, rebuilt the business of ultimate fighting, changing its image as a bloody spectacle to that of a legitimate sport with top-notch athletes. With Fertitta as the UFC’s chief executive and main power, the trio expanded the promotion abroad, and negotiated to get its biggest stars from rival organizations.
In July, the Fertittas sold the majority of their stake in the UFC for a reported $4 billion to sports/entertainment management group WME-IMG. Eclipsing even the $2 billion sale of the L.A. Clippers in 2014, the deal was one of ”the largest ever in the history of sports,” Fertitta crowed.
To further put it into perspective, it rivals the price George Lucas got from Disney when he sold the entire Star Wars franchise in 2012.
Fertitta isn’t wistful about parting with the organization. “When you take something from nothing to [$4 billion], I don’t think you should have regrets.”