Ultimate Fighting Championship’s latest investors include 23 celebrities and sports figures, the mixed martial arts organization announced Friday. UFC has doubled down on its bid to boost its profile since its acquisition last July by talent agency 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 in a press release. “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.”
The celebrities joining UFC’s ownership group include singer Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, “Maroon 5” frontman Adam Levine, actors Ben Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, Tyler Perry, LL Cool J and Sylvester Stallone, music producer Calvin Harris, late night television hosts Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel, “Red Hot Chili Peppers” band members Anthony Kiedis and Flea, television personality Rob Dyrdek, movie producer Michael Bay, chef Guy Fieri and “South Park” creator Trey Parker.
Sports figures investing in the brand include Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tennis players Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
WME-IMG teamed up with Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and MSD Capital to purchase UFC from casino magnates Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta for an unprecedented $4 billion last July. The Fertitta brothers bought the fledgling MMA brand for just $2 million in 2000.
The company reportedly earned approximately $600 million in revenue last year, driven in large part by the crossover appeal of top fighters like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
The addition of high-profile celebrity investors comes roughly six weeks before UFC is set to host its first event in New York City in more than two decades. The pay-per-view card, dubbed “UFC 205,” will take place at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12.