Majority owner, Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC)
Lorenzo Fertitta may not have as visible a public profile as UFC president Dana White, but he is every bit as important to the organization’s runaway success. In 2002, the former head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission was working as a casino executive in Las Vegas when White, his longtime childhood friend, approached him with a business proposition.
Semaphore Entertainment Group, then the owner of the upstart Ultimate Fighting Championships promotion, was planning to sell the organization. White, who was an MMA manager at the time, convinced Fertitta that the UFC’s availability was a great opportunity. Fertitta teamed up with his brother and bought the UFC from Semaphore, naming White the organization’s new president.
The move marked the beginning of an era of explosive growth for the UFC. When Fertitta and White took over, only fans of fringe extreme sports knew and followed the organization. Today, the UFC is one of the most visible and best-known leagues in the sporting world, and its overall popularity is approaching the level of the National Hockey League and NASCAR auto racing.
To see just how far the UFC has come under Fertitta’s ownership, look no further than the television deal the league signed with FOX Sports in 2011. That year, the network inked a 7-year broadcasting rights agreement with the UFC for a whopping $700 million. As part of the pact, FOX Sports agreed to televise four live events on its main national station each year, as well as 32 additional live bouts on its cable affiliates.
Fertitta is also on the board of directors of the American Gaming Association and chairman of the Nevada Resort Association. He also co-founded Station Casinos, a privately held entertainment and hospitality company with annual revenues in the range of $1 billion.