Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zuffa Sells A %10 Stake To The Govt. Of Abu Dhabi, U.A.E

Though it had been rumored for days, it was officially announced today that a ten percent stake in the UFC has been sold to a Middle Eastern entertainment promotion company known as Flash Entertainment.

The company, based in the opulent city of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emerates, is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, which is also embodied in the person of Sheik Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan.

According to Sherdog.com, to make room for another shareholder, Frank and Lorenze Fretitta's %45 stakes were reduced to %40.5, while President Dana White's previous %10 stake was reduced to %09.

As for why the UFC would choose to bring a new investor in at this time, there are a variety of plausible explanations-- all of which could be true simultaneously, of course. First, if we believe Dana White's statements of several months ago, they must have thought the Sheik of Abu Dhabi was a pretty awesome dude. If the picture above, featuring the Sheik and one of the Frettita brothers apparently hunting dinosaurs, is any indication, I think we can assume that much is true.

Beyond that, the UFC claims the move was made to accelerate their plans for global expansion. I guess, Flash Entertainment has certain connections throughout the Middle East and Asia that are not available to outsiders? That could be true, I suppose.

Finally, there is some speculation that, after years of relentless efforts to promote and sanction MMA worldwide, the UFC had come up against a bit of a cash shortage and that the stake sale was designed to deal with that short-term difficulty.

It will be fascinating to see how this move is regarded after the rigors of history have revealed the various results. At least it's now clear why the UFC seems so eager to load up their debut card in Abu Dhabi (UFC 112, April 10th). At this point, it features no less than two title fights (Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort -- and -- BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar), and a very marketable match between UFC legend Matt Hughes and BJJ master Renzo Gracie.

Check out the following video from MMAFighting.com in which Dana White confirms and comments on the deal:

Thanks to Sherdog.com and MMACanada.net for the assists.

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