Report: Zuffa Sells Stake to Sheikh Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi

January 8, 2010

Cory Brady of FiveOuncesOfPain breaks the news that Zuffa has sold a minority stake to Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan: has recently received reports from multiple sources extremely close to the situation indicating that the UFC has recently sold a minority percentage of the company to Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the son of the former United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Sheik Tahnoon is well known throughout the grappling community as the founder of the no-gi submission Olympics, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club. Himself a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie, Shiek Tahnoon has been a long time supporter and practitioner of Jiu-Jitsu.

With a current estimated population of 896,75, Abu Dhabi is the second largest city of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi currently possesses 9% of the world’s proven oil reserves and nearly 5% of the world’s natural gas. In 2007 Fortune Magazine named Abu Dhabi as the single richest city in the world

Payout Perspective:

The report comes after months of speculation that the Zuffa had indeed sold a stake to Sheikh Tahnoon – something had heard as early as last October. The percentage is believed to be approximately 10%.

It’s been rumored that the Sheikh was looking to getting into MMA with or without the Zuffa, and thus the decision was made to cut him into the organization. His wealth and numerous connections will undoubtedly prove to be a tremendous asset to the company moving forward – especially internationally within markets like the Middle East and Asia. Moreover, it is believed that the proceeds from the sale will go towards a war chest that will be used to battle for control of the Fertitta’s Station Casinos entity.

It’s unlikely that the UFC will publicly disclose the sales figure, but MMAPayout will work in the next few days to estimate the price based upon what we know about the organizations revenues, gross margins, and future growth predictions.

21 Responses to “Report: Zuffa Sells Stake to Sheikh Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi”

  1. Joseph on January 8th, 2010 12:51 PM

    Great piece and insight. Really looking forward to your follow ups on this issue.

  2. The Fist on January 8th, 2010 1:26 PM

    We want numbers and we want them now. 10%?

    I would guess enterprise value of perhaps $1.4 $1.6 billion, they have that debt to consider, but lets call it $110 million for the stake.

    get crackin kid


  3. UFC säljer andelar av företaget till shejk från Abu Dhabi | on January 8th, 2010 2:12 PM

    […] – Köp andelar i företaget. Det är precis vad Shejk Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan har gjort. MMAPayout tror att andelen han äger just nu är 10% och varför det här kan vara viktiga nyheter för dig […]

  4. Joseph on January 8th, 2010 3:43 PM

    10% = 200 million Ive heard in some places.

  5. UFC säljer andelar av företaget till shejk från Abu Dhabi - FIGHTPLAY | Kampsport | MMA | UFC on January 8th, 2010 10:05 PM

    […] – Köp andelar i företaget. Det är precis vad Shejk Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan har gjort. MMAPayout tror att andelen han äger just nu är 10% och varför det här kan vara viktiga nyheter för dig […]

  6. ffww on January 9th, 2010 3:02 AM

    no wonder Dana is furious over jake rossen’s critique on his 10 year plan…because in reality the fertita bros is in big trouble because of station casinos(which is so much bigger than the ufc) and they are really looking to sell the ufc.and they dont want no writer to destroy theyr marketing ploy to sell it which is”IT WOULD BE BIGGEST SPORT” tagline…but rossen is right…ufc is big in the u.s but anywhere else in the world its not..and Dana cannot claim that when they go to one country that because of the response translates into it being big….of course the ufc has been here more than 15 years and if they go to one country its going to fill up arenas…
    but why dont they try and promote the ufc in each of the country on a monthly basis simoultaneously and see if it sells out every time…..
    they ONCE in germany and Dana said its soo huge…well the wwe goes to different countries more often and they sell out everytime as well so does beyonce,metallica etc,,,,and all the music icons\

  7. mma guru on January 9th, 2010 6:28 AM

    It would not be unreasonable for the 10% stake to be worth upwards of 150 million. I’d like to see the analysis on this. With close to 8 million in PPV sales which make up probably the bulk of their revenue (for argument sake lets say 75%) and from what we can tell from gate revenues and salary payouts that the gate should handle most of the running costs – we would have roughly 200 million in revenue (8 million by about 50% of PPV amount) from PPV in 2010. Normally a company is worth 5 times their yearly revenue (excluding goodwill which UFC has a lot) than they are worth maybe 1 billion +. So at the low end, 10% stake would be 100 million, high end I’d say 150 million to account for goodwill and other revenues.

  8. mma guru on January 9th, 2010 6:29 AM

    The above is a quick analysis, I know there are other factors involved.

  9. UFC Sells Minority Percentage of Company to Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi | MMA Fight News - MMA News, MMA Gear, MMA Training on January 9th, 2010 6:35 AM

    […] president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and founder of the world-famous Abu Dhabi Combat Club. MMA Payout estimates that Sheikh Tahnoon now owns approximately 10% of the UFC, and the proceeds of the sale […]

  10. Mike on January 9th, 2010 1:02 PM

    Worth pointing out: Not one reputable news site has run with this, 24 hours after Five ounces reported it. Not MMAWeekly, or Junkie, or Sherdog, or Yahoo or Josh Gross. Either 5 oz. has the scoop to end all scoops … or they got it wrong.

  11. Boxing and mma fans sometimes are blinded by their loyalty on January 9th, 2010 2:07 PM

    […] want Strikeforce to get his money and contacts or he will help them expand in that area.  MMA payout said they would use the money to help their bankrupt casinos.  His conclusions are misguided. […]

  12. Brain Smasher on January 9th, 2010 2:17 PM


    The UFC can go to many cities and run events all year round. Just because they dont doesnt mean they cant. These countires clearly have a MMA following or the UFC wouldnt sell out at all. The reason they dont run events all year around is the same reason they dont come to Ohio every month. It is a big MMA state but the economy there doesnt allow them to charge much for tickets. So they get a 2 million gate which is no better than any other location like Atlanta, memphis, philly, etc. BUt they can pull 3-5 million in gate with much less tickets sold in Vegas. I was at UFC 68 which set the North AMerican attendance record at the time for mma. 19,000. The gate was only 3 million. Yet i think UFC 52 sold only 12,000 seat but had a gate of over 5 million. This added to the UFC wanting to expand their brand all over the world causes them to not focus on any one location unless its Vegas or maybe one day New York. Even with all the success in Ohio they are not coming back this year.

  13. uberVU - social comments on January 9th, 2010 4:19 PM

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by DarthMolen: RT @MMAPayoutdotcom: Zuffa sells stake to Sheikh Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi, and new information on situation: #ufc…

  14. Multiple Abu Dhabi trips may have been setting up UFC sale? | UFC News on January 9th, 2010 6:04 PM

    […] MMAPayoutis reporting that Sheikh Tahnoon may own as much as 10-percent of the company. Five Ounces of Pain reminded us of several tweets from the UFC’s power brokers starting in the August of 2009. white first indicated he was there on Aug. 3. The next Abu Dhabi-related tweet came in November when Fertitta said he was there and asked if anyone wanted to see Gracie fight in the UFC. After UFC 105 in the U.K. White said a crew was headed to Abu Dhabi: “We’re trying to figure out how this thing we’ll work. I don’t have a deal, but I’m pretty confident that we’re going to make one. I really don’t have any details other than that we’re working on it, and we’re confident that it will happen. Obviously, everybody knows Shiek Ta Sheik Tahnoon is a huge jiu-jitsu guy. He’s a Renzo Gracie black belt. He’s very into jiu-jitsu.” […]

  15. youtube on January 9th, 2010 9:54 PM

    the economy wont allow it reason for it to be held monthly in a place like ohio is the same reason it wont be profitable around the world…its very expensive..ergo how would they be able to promote monthly in different countires..and go global as dana claims
    now if you go to different countries you will see that a sport like boxing has monthly promotions with different local promoters running it and making a profit…(ill try and find some data—germany has universum,k2 promotions and arena promotions….in thailand they have probably 2 boxing promotions a month—different promoters,britain has frank warren and sky promoting,,mexico has A LOT of the philippines there are about 5 promoters promoting regularly etc…and all of these businesses are making money)
    ufc is very dependent in vegas where casinos pay them a site fee…but saying they would be global and profitable worldwde would be hard to do…(how many countries right now have a mma promotion that has been promoting regularly for at least 3 years and are making money? in the u.s where mma is the strongest elite x and ifl didnt make money…

  16. Quick Hits: Part of UFC Sold, Strikeforce Talking to Huerta and Barnett, “Rampage” Gets Probation, and More | on January 10th, 2010 12:01 PM

    […] A minority stake in the UFC, estimated to be approximately 10% of the promotion, has been sold to Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the son of the former United Arab Emirates president, Abu Dhabi Combat Club founder, and Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie. The news explains the stacked fight card that is shaping up for the UFC’s April 10 event in Abu Dhabi. [Five Ounces of Pain, MMA Payout] […]

  17. Brain Smasher on January 11th, 2010 12:37 PM


    Elite XC and IFl went under because of poor management. Also they dont have anywhere near the popularity the UFC has. The UFC is making profit of every event they run be it Ohio or UK. They could run many events and sell out but it lose its edge real fast. The UFC moves around to keep the product fresh. When the UFC shows up its a big deal. That wouldnt happen if they run events in the same place over and over. They even had to take a break from Vegas to keep the events meaningful.

  18. yogi bear on January 16th, 2010 3:34 AM

    so if the ufc cannot run events in the same place over and over than how the hell can Dana white claim that it would be bigger than the NFL who have games over and over in a span of a the ufc would be like the wwe? IF Thats the case then i agree..
    also if other promotions dont seem to exist than ufc is getting bigger and not mma as a sport…

  19. Multiple Abu Dhabi trips may have been setting up UFC sale | on January 20th, 2010 6:15 PM

    […] is rumored to face Matt Hughes at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi on Apr. 10.  internet marketing MMAPayout is reporting that Sheikh Tahnoon may own as much as 10-percent of the company. Five Ounces of Pain […]

  20. on February 4th, 2010 11:45 AM

    It’s nice too hear about the UFC being pushed around. The UFC is being intimidated by a Shiek in Abu Dhabi…. ha ha.
    Isn’t that whole Abu Dhabi development out in the ocean going downhill? Because to put your eggs into a basket with holes in it.

    The sheik probably made them an offer they counldn’t refuse. lol

    Good luck…. you better invest some new METAL DETECTORS.

  21. on February 4th, 2010 11:53 AM

    STRIKEFORCE – it’s growing, with all of the fighters defecting from the UFC and other fight leagues. Strikeforce is the league to watch.

    StrikeForce events are pretty good. I enjoy going ot San Jose, California and watching the fights about twice a year.

    The StrikeForce events are getting better and better. If you hang around after the fights you are sure to run into some popular fighters.

    I’ll post some cool pics (on my site) of fighters and people that i met at the last event.

    See you at the next StrikeForce event in San Jose, California


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