The ringside seats at UFC bouts may soon pack more star power now that a host of celebs have lineup as investors in the mixed martial arts organization recently acquired by WME/IMG for $4 billion.
WME/IMG said Friday that such showbiz notables as Ben Affleck, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Tyler Perry, Trey Parker, Adam Levine and LL Cool J have joined UFC’s ownership group. Those investments are understood to be equity purchases on the part of the new investors.
The list also includes sports figures such as Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Maria Sharapova and Robert Kraft, chairman-CEO of the New England Patriots. Most of the new investors are clients of WME/IMG.
“Expanding our ownership group to include this caliber of talent and entrepreneurs is a strong indicator of UFC’s fast-growing global presence,” UFC president Dana White said. “Our new investors bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to help us continue to elevate this brand and capitalize on its entertainment and sports crossover appeal.”
In July, WME/IMG and Silver Lake Partners led the buyout of UFC. The acquisition of the sports league is part of WME/IMG’s drive to expand its operations beyond the representation field with content and event franchises. The purchase of UFC marks the largest bet in both of those arenas for WME/IMG to date.
The other celebrity investors named by WME/IMG are: Musician Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis and Flea, actor Calvin Harris, food TV personality Guy Fieri, golfer Li Na and producer-host Rob Dyrdek.
(Pictured: Jimmy Kimmel, Serena Williams and Ben Affleck)