Every partnership is different...but some are a lot more different than others.
First some background. While as president, Dana White was the public face of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the majority owners were Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, brothers who bought the company in 2000 for $2 million--and who just sold the company for $4 billion.
White will stay on as president of the organization now owned by talent agency William Morris Endeavor, who partnered with its owner Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital (the investment firm of Dell Computers founder Michael Dell).
The Fertittas took the company--and the sport--from what John McCain once called "a form of human cockfighting" to a business with revenues of approximately $600 million last year.
Yet the Fertittas are unusual in one other respect. Because the brothers started out with 50-50 ownership stakes, their lawyer recommended inserting a clause in their partnership agreement that allowed them to settle disputes.
According to Lorenzo, their lawyers said, "If you guys don't agree to something, there's got to be a way to resolve it."
"So what we decided to do is we'll have three five-minute rounds of jiu-jitsu, sport jiu-jitsu, which is points-based, with UFC president Dana White as the referee," Lorenzo said. "It hasn't happened yet. We have a great relationship. We're very different personalities but we always agree."
The Fertittas will step down as part of the deal but will retain a minority interest. White owned 9 percent percent and will be given a stake in the new business. (And the Abu Dhabi government still owns 10 percent.)
What that means is that the Fertittas just pulled off an amazing growth story, concluded the most expensive transaction for a sports organization in history...and they won't need to resort to a jiu-jitsu match to settle any disagreements--at least where the direction of UFC is concerned.