Shane McMahon had meetings to purchase UFC prior to Zuffa

WWE’s Shane McMahon had meetings to purchase UFC prior to Zuffa

Long-time World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) employee Bruce Pritchard and host of the Something to Wrestle With podcast recently detailed that Vince McMahon’s son, Shane McMahon, had attempted to purchase the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) years ago.

Shane McMahon, 52, was a wrestler, producer and minority owner in the WWE at the time. He is also the founder and executive chairman of Ideanomics, formerly Seven Stars Cloud Group.

Pritchard said on the podcast: “Bob Meyrowitz was putting UFC out there in wanting to sell and also looking at ways to change.

“So, I know that Shane was definitely interested in buying the UFC.

Meyrowitz was the owner of Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG), which was the parent company of UFC prior to the Zuffa era.

“And during that time, we had meetings with Meyrowitz and Campbell McLaren. I think that first of all, originally, they weren’t asking for a whole lot,” Pritchard said.

“They weren’t asking for a lot, but it was more than Vince was willing to pay at the time.”

The UFC brand faded steadily in the late 1990s and into the new century. In 2000 Meyrowitz approached Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta about buying a half-interest in UFC. Instead, they decided to buy it all for $2 million, forming Zuffa L.L.C. in 2001 to complete the deal, ultimately leaving Shane McMahon out in the cold.

“The overhaul on the UFC that the Fertitta [brothers] were able to pull off, and Dana White with the overhaul with the rules and the presentation and everything else, was the best thing that could have happened to them,” Pritchard said.

“I don’t know that we as a company could have overcome the stigma of WWE owning UFC and been able to make all the changes that UFC needed to make.”

WME-IMG, headed up by co-CEO’s Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, put together a winning bid to purchase the UFC from the Fertittas as well as UFC president Dana White that saw the organization change hands for the first time in 15 years. That sale that occurred in 2016 was the largest purchase in the history of sports, settling out at more than $4 billion.

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