William Morris Endeavor looming purchase of IMG Worldwide sports agency could mean big things for UFC stars

Scott Cunningham

Will UFC President Dana White and Co. have more Hollywood lawyers to deal with in the future?

If you were a fan of the hit HBO series "Entourage," you may recall the outspoken and brash Hollywood agent Ari Gold -- who had a firm grasp on most of the talent in "Tinsel Town" -- attempting to get into the sports side of things in season seven.

Gold's character -- played by Jeremy Piven, an avid Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fan -- was based on Ari Emanuel, a real life Hollywood agent who is one of the leading executives at William Morris Endeavor (WME), perhaps the biggest talent agency in Hollywood.

And in what seems to be something taken right out of the script and brought into real life, WME might very well have a firm grasp on the sports world soon, as well, as Forbes reveals that they are expected to announce the $2 billion purchase of one of the biggest sports agency in the world, IMG Worldwide.

So how is this relevant to mixed martial arts (MMA)?

For starters, UFC's women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey inked a deal with WME last year which eventually lead to her getting roles in "The Expendables " and "Fast and Furious 7." When UFC Light Heavyweight Jon Jones landed his Nike deal earlier this year, it was done with the assistance of Ari Emanuel, according to Malki Kawa, Jones' manager.

And while UFC President Dana White and Emanuel seem to have a good relationship, the Las Vegas fight boss has expressed issues with Rousey's Hollywood lawyer in the past, who may or may not work under Emanuel.

Nevertheless, as WME attempts to dominate sports business, much like it has done in the movie business, might we expect more and more MMA fighters to join their team?

After all, with high-powered agents at the helm who have scored big contracts for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alex Rodriguez and Michelle Wie, among others, who wouldn't want go-getters like that seeking more coin for their pocket?

This landmark deal could mean nothing for MMA or it could mean that a changing of the guard -- as far as talent management is concerned -- could be on the horizon. According to Forbes, "William Morris Endeavor's purchase of IMG Worldwide will immediately shift the balance of power among major players in the business of sports."

White has expressed in the past that he doesn't care much for sports agents, and now that WME might possibly be landing a few more high-profiled MMA athletes in the future, things could get a bit interesting for Dana and Co. at the negotiating table.

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