Don’t worry; you’re entirely new to the world of mixed martial arts, and you have plenty of questions. I am here to help you with the answers.
The next time you see the UFC on the TV at a gathering down at your local pub, you’ll be able to breeze through any difficult questions and look like you know your stuff. So let’s get started.
First up, what is the UFC?
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the premier mixed martial arts (MMA) competition in the USA. MMA is a globally recognized sport where two fighters use skills from various martial arts, including grappling and striking, to defeat their opponent either by knockout, submission, or score.
Who Started The UFC?
The UFC was originally started by businessman Art Davie and a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Grandmaster, Rorion Gracie. Other co-founders also joined during the UFC’s formative years, including Bob Meyrowitz, entrepreneur Campbell McLaren, media mogul David Isaacs, and screenwriter John Milius.
Art Davie was one-half of the original brainchild behind the UFC as a co-producer of the original televised competitions.
Rorion Gracie is one of the few people in the world to hold a 9th-degree red belt in BJJ, specifically the Gracie system. He’s one of the original co-creators of the UFC alongside Art Davie. He found inspiration in fighting exhibitions called the “Gracie Challenge” inside his family’s BJJ system and dreamed of creating an ultimate fighting challenge between unique disciplines.
Bob Meyrowitz was the original owner of the UFC until he sold it to Zuffa LLC in 2001.
Campbell McLaren is an American entrepreneur and is considered one of the ten most influential people in the history of the UFC for his efforts in marketing the very early shows of the UFC.
David Isaacs was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG), the original media company behind creating the UFC. David played an essential part in keeping the UFC alive during some of its most challenging years in the 90s.
John Milius was an instrumental force in getting the UFC off the ground, using his media connections to bring more eyes and attention to the brand to attract investment. The octagonal shape of the UFC ring was John’s bright idea, creating the “octagon” that we now commonly refer to instead of the “ring.”
When Was The First UFC?
On November 12, 1993, the first UFC was held at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. They had a mere 7800 people attend in a half-empty arena. It was a televised pay-per-view event that would be later available to watch at home on VHS tape.
Although the first-ever UFC wasn’t much to shout about, it was, of course, a fundamental building block to what would (much) later become the greatest fighting tournament on the planet.
Who Owns The UFC?
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is owned by Endeavour Group Holdings, Inc. Endeavour is a company of talent and media agencies in the USA. They bought the UFC from Zuffa LLC in 2016 for $4.025 billion.
Many people think that Dana White is the owner of the UFC. Probably because he’s the main face that you’ll see on the PPV events, but he’s, in fact, the President of the UFC (like the CEO).
Let me answer a few common yet mistaken questions about his relationship with the UFC.
When Did Dana White Buy The UFC?
Dana White never bought or owned the UFC. Dana was a crucial intermediary in its original sale between Semaphore Entertainment Group to Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta (Zuffa LLC) in 2001. Dana became President of the UFC and remained during Zuffa LLC’s sale to Endeavour in 2016.
How Much Did Dana White Buy The UFC For?
Dana White never paid any amount to own the UFC. He helped its original $2 million sale from Semaphore Entertainment Group to Zuffa LLC and became UFC’s President. When Zuffa LLC was bought by Endeavour for $4.025 billion, Dana remained and owned a 9% stake of the UFC.
How Much Did Dana White Sell The UFC For?
Dana White never sold the UFC but was present during both original sales between separate holding companies. In 2001, the UFC sold for $2 million from Semaphore to Zuffa LLC. In 2016, Zuffa LLC sold for $4.025 billion to Endeavour, including the UFC in the sale.
How Much Is The UFC Worth?
At the most recent sale of the UFC in 2016, Endeavour Group Holdings bought Zuffa LLC (the holding company owning the UFC) for US$4.025 billion. In 2021, Endeavour bought out Zuffa’s remaining shareholders for US$1.7 billion, putting the valuation of the UFC at least US$5.725 billion.
But let’s do some simple math to get an even more accurate number.
In 2015, the UFC reported over US$609 million in revenue. They also secured a five-year deal with ESPN worth over US$1.5 billion in revenue.
That puts the annual revenue between 2015-2020 in the region of US$900 million, possibly even US$1 billion, per year!
It seems pretty clear that although combat sports can face many common challenges with commissions, laws, and even Covid-19 restrictions, the US$4 billion sale price back in 2016 was quite a bargain for Endeavour Group Holdings.
Presuming the UFC continued an upward revenue trajectory from that US$609 million revenue, which is more than likely, I would hazard a guess that Endeavour has already made their money back on their original investment and is now sitting on a cash cow.
Even if we place a conservative estimate on revenue for the UFC at continuing US$609 million per year between 2015-2021 (6 years), the UFC could have generated a minimum sum of US$3.654 billion in that time. But like I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual number was close to US$5 billion in that timeframe.
What Are UFC Fighters Wearing Around Their Neck?
UFC fighters often wear a performance respirator, called the Tactical Respirator II, during their walkouts for a fight. These are specially designed respirators for fighters and their daily needs to train and work out leading up to a fight while shielding them from Covid-19 variants.
You might see various fighters walking out with these respirators hanging around their necks. For the fighters, it is entirely optional to wear them.
They look a lot like Tom Hardy’s Bane from Batman when they wear them.
These respirators became a standard piece of equipment provided to fighters after the UFC partnered with O2 Industries in 2020.
Answers To More Common Questions
Now you should have a pretty good idea of some basics, like what is the UFC? and when was the first UFC? But I am pretty confident this may have just opened up more questions!
If that’s the case, I’ve collected together some of my best articles answering many more common questions about the UFC, how it works, and its history:
- What Does UFC Stand For?
- How Many Rounds In UFC Fights?
- How Long Do UFC Fights Last?
- Why Do UFC Fighters Have Weird Ears?
- Best Way To Get Into Watching MMA & UFC
Joe Bloom is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe has been a passionate mixed martial artist in training since 2019, having studied Boxing and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.