ufc sold for a nice 4 billion

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    UFC $4b sale could transform mixed martial arts competition into lucrative mainstream sport

    By Tom Nightingale
    Posted about an hour ago
    PHOTO: Some fans have expressed concern about what the sale might lead to in the hunt for new audiences. (Getty Images: Matthew Stockman)
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    Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the sport of mixed martial arts or 'cage fighting', is about to become far more corporate.
    UFC explainer:

    • UFC is a American fighting promotion company, began in 1990s
    • It is the premier mixed martial arts promotion and largest in the world
    • Attacked for being overly violent, dubbed 'human cockfighting' by US Senator John McCain
    The company behind the competition has been sold for $US4 billion to a group backed by private equity firms.

    The deal was signed to an ownership group consisting of the talent agency William Morris Endeavor, International Management Group, and a private equity group MSD.

    Associate Professor Con Stavros, from RMIT University, said the UFC could now become bigger than ever.

    "[It's a] significant amount of money for what has become one of the notable brands in world of sport, I think one of the key success stories that the UFC's been able to deliver with this great sale is how well they've been able to tap into the digital market," he said.

    The UFC has confirmed the sale and now fans are wondering whether it will result in significant changes to the sport.
    Violence and drama mix appeals to young people

    Professor Stavros said the mix of violence and drama had been a hit among younger adults.
    "It's part soap opera, part drama," he said.
    "It's part of this inclination to follow the lives of people on social media and in the movies and the TV shows and everything else they appear in.

    "And part of their life just happens inside the octagon performing this ultimate fighting championship.
    "I can see the appeal for a wide variety of people who might like that kind of drama."

    AUDIO: Listen to Tom Nightingale's report(AM)
    In the past the sport has been seen as controversial, but Mr Stavros said the sport had cleaned itself up in terms of how it presented itself.

    "They've come down a little bit from that incredibly rugged kind of attitude, but they've still maintained part of it," he said.

    Mixed martial arts (MMA) had previously been banned in Victoria, and it is still banned in Western Australia.
    Dubbed 'human cockfighting' and a 'blood sport'

    The sport has been called by critics 'human cockfighting', or a 'blood sport'.
    The women inspired by Ronda Rousey

    At a gym in Melbourne, Ronda Rousey's success has inspired many other women to take up fighting.

    But 23-year-old Terence Hands, a fan of the sport, said when comparing the sport to others such as American football (NFL), UFC was not as dangerous.

    "The concussion rates that [sports like NFL] have is just ridiculous," he said.

    "Like, you don't get that kind of thing in MMA at the moment, you obviously have some instances, it's not the perfect sport and that's the competition of it.

    "But I think … how violent it is now compared to how it was when it was unlawed (sic) and no gloves and everything was a go, it's definitely a lot better."

    PHOTO: Professor Con Stavros says the sale could lead the sport to become bigger than ever. (AAP Image: Joe Castro)
    Fans worried brutality will return

    Mr Hands, who spends an hour a day helping run a Facebook page for fans of the sport, said some fans had expressed concern about what the sale might lead to in the hunt for new audiences.
    "With previous Asian MMA organisations, that has sort of dwindled back to that blood sport that we're trying to move away from with mixed martial arts," he said.
    "For example no kicks on an opponent who's on the ground to a head, whereas in Asian mixed martial arts community that is allowed.

    "So I do see a lot of worry in the community that it could go back to that kind of thing, whereas now we are much more enforced.

    "Like, we have tighter rules to protect the fighters and stuff like that."

    The UFC is scheduled to hold some fights in Australia later this year.

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