ESPN’s Darren Rovell, UFC President Dana White comment on report of UFC sale talks on Dan Patrick Show

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Dana White (photo credit Gary Vazquez © USA Today Sports)

The potential sale of the UFC was the main topic this morning on The Dan Patrick Show on NBCSN, with ESPN reporter Darren Rovell defending a Tuesday report that the UFC’s owners were in “advanced talks” to sell the organization, while UFC President Dana White continued his refutation.

Rovell appeared first, discussing the information they’d received in going forward with the report, which named WME/IMG, China Media Capital, The Blackstone Group, and Dalian Wanda Group as potential suitors in bids that could potentially value up to $4 billion.

“We stand by every single line in our story that they are in advanced talks to sell,” Rovell said. “Now, does that mean that they will sell? No. But they are in advanced talks to sell. This isn’t someone walked up to the Fertitta brothers and offered to buy it. This is negotiations that have taken place over some time. UFC have shared their financials through Goldman-Sachs through these potential bidders. We have confirmed all of these bidders have received the same numbers.”

White followed up with less of a denial than he offered Tuesday night, when he curtly stated they weren’t for sale, instead admitting that they’re always looking at different deals. However, he said the Fertitta’s weren’t selling outright, and it would likely mean his end in the sport should that ever come to fruition. Additionally, he denied any rumors that the Fertitta’s might be interested in buying NFL team the Oakland Raiders for relocation to Las Vegas.

“We’re always working on deals for our expansion globally. If somebody shows up with four billion dollars, we can talk (laughs),” White said. “If I’m in the middle of a deal right now, there’s a lot of confidentiality involved. We’re working on expanding and growing the company, moving into other countries like China Japan, Korea. We get offers for the UFC all the time. It started in 2010, we got an offer for over a billion dollars, we turned it down.

“The day we decide to sell, I probably don’t want to do this anymore. I love the business, I love the sport, I jump out of bed every day excited to work.”

Penick’s Analysis: What seems clear is that there are always organizations interested in getting a piece of the UFC, and more than in past years there may be more advancement to some type of deal right now than there has been. Of course, whether that means a minority stake being sold in some type of prorated capacity to what they believe the organization’s full valuation is, whether there’s a suitor willing to pay them every cent they’d ask for to let go of the organization, or whether something else in between comes together, we simply won’t know until a deal is in place and moves forward. That’s not where things stand, so it’s easier for White to say a report is wrong, even if there are many accurate pieces laid out therein.

MMATorch Supervising Editor Wade Keller contributed to this piece.

Correction: The original article mistakenly had the Dan Patrick Show airing on ESPN. The radio show is live broadcast on NBCSN, and the article has been updated accordingly.

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