UFC was launched in 1993 and purchased for just $2 million in 2001 by casino operators Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. Chairman/CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said it was nearly bankrupt and “literally going out of business” at the time. The $4 billion sales price represents a 72% annual return on that original investment.

A WSJ interview with President Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta:

Dana White @ 6:50: You take money out of the equation, him and his brother are billionaires and two of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met.  We got into this thing because we’re very passionate about the sport. When we got into this sport their peers were laughing at them. Said this is the stupidest investment they’d ever made. They were losing tons of money, the UFC was a joke. Believe me, we went through a lot of ridicule and everything else when we first bought this thing. Now that its turned around, everyone thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world and they wish they were a part of it. We believed in the sport and the athletes, and we believed that this could be a global franchise. “

Lorenzo, Dana & Frank. The UFC deal is by far the richest sale in the history of professional sports

@ 7:40 Every day when we get up, we know what the prize is, we know what the goal is. We want to put on an event everywhere. In every city, in every country all over this planet and make this the biggest sport in the world.”

Lorenzo with Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor

You cant do that unless you’re able to be entrepreneurial, nimble and quick, and have smart people around you. It’s not just about me and Dana sitting here, we have an incredible executive team around the world and infrastructure that makes this stuff all happen.” -Lorenzo Fertitta