SBD/Issue 148/Sports Industrialists

Forbes Profiles UFC Owners Lorenzo, Frank Fertitta

 

Frank (l) And Lorenzo (r) Fertitta Have
Grown UFC Into Lucrative Sports Empire
UFC co-Owner LORENZO FERTITTA, along with older brother and UFC co-Owner FRANK FERTITTA and UFC President DANA WHITE, has "transformed UFC from a business once labeled by [U.S. Sen.] JOHN MCCAIN[R-AZ] as 'human cockfighting' into a lucrative sports empire that competitors like [Mavericks Owner] MARK CUBAN are now hoping to horn in on," according to Matthew Miller in a cover story for FORBES. UFC this year is "likely to generate $250[M], capturing perhaps 90% of [MMA] revenue," and the league in '07 drew 5.1 million PPV buys for 11 fights. The Fertitta brothers each own a 45% stake in UFC and White owns 10%. Each Fertitta has a "net worth of $1.3[B], ranking each 380th on The Forbes 400." And while the Fertittas spend 90% of their time "running Station Casinos while White runs the day-to-day operations of UFC," neither brother "seems inclined to sell." Frank Fertitta: "I'm sure we could find something to do if we did. But we're having too much fun." The Fertittas, who bought UFC in '01 for $2M, said that they "field pleas from private equity and media firms to sell UFC" and that those offers "exceed $1[B]." Harley-Davidson CMO MARK-HANS RICHER, whose company is a UFC corporate sponsor, said of the sport's marketing appeal, "UFC has a deep, passionate fan base. Advertising to such an engaged group of young males is important to us because we want and need to be selling to the next generation." But Cuban argues that UFC is "vulnerable ... because the company is 'completely dependent on [PPV],' which used to be the primary way to see live MMA." Cuban said with HDNet and CBS now offering live events for free, "Fans may not be willing to pay 50 bucks a pop quite so often." White: "I'm flattered that Frank, Lorenzo and I have made this business look so easy. But CBS doesn't understand the fight business, and Mark Cuban doesn't know anything about the fight business, either. All he's concerned with is drawing subscribers to HDNet so he can sell out to Time Warner or Comcast." Lorenzo Fertitta: "We are like football and the NFL. The sport of [MMA] is known by one name: UFC" (FORBES, 5/5 issue).

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