A new deal sees the WWE and UFC merge under the same umbrella for all-round combat sports offerings subject to regulatory approval.
The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has agreed to merge with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to form a publicly-traded combat sports company. According to reports, the new company will be run by a talent and media holding company and UFC parent Endeavor Group Holdings.
The WWE deal comes months after news first emerged that the popular wrestling promotion sought a buyer. The Vince McMahon-controlled company has a current market value of $6.79 billion, although the deal valued the wrestling promotion at $9.3 billion.
The deal is expected to close near the end of the year and is subject to regulatory approval.
Details of Merger
The WWE-UFC merger would see Endeavor Group CEO Ari Emanuel preside over the combined company as chief executive. Emanuel will also retain his CEO position at the original Endeavor Talent Agency/William Morris Agency-merged company. Meanwhile, WWE’s McMahon will serve as executive chairman of the wrestling promotion, while current UFC president Dana White will also remain in that role. Furthermore, Endeavor president and chief operating officer Mark Shapiro will function as executive chairman of the new company. Lastly, WWE CEO Nick Khan will retain his position as president.
Pursuant to the deal, the merger will comprise 11 people, with six appointed by Endeavor and five by WWE. Although the new company’s name will be announced later, the merger will reportedly trade under the stock ticker TKO.
Endeavor Group will take a 51% controlling stake in the combined company, with the remaining 49% going to WWE’s shareholders.
WWE shares fell in premarket trading following the deal’s announcement, while Endeavor’s shares climbed.
The WWE decision to merge with the UFC comes a day after the wrestling promotion concluded its annual WrestleMania. The premier 2-day, pay-per-view event was a spectacle that drew tens of thousands of ardent fans to Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium. While WrestleMania was ongoing, bankers and executives from both sides of the merger were applying the deal’s finishing touches.
The newly-merged combat sports company is worth more than $21 billion, with stakeholders expecting that it would rise further. According to inside sources, the value of rights for live events such as wrestling and MMA will continue to appreciate. As Shapiro put it:
“Must-watch TV is a rarity these days. And unicorns like the UFC and WWE will be heavily in demand.”
WWE & UFC Merge to Offer All-Inclusive Scripted & Real Competitive Fights
By merging WWE with the UFC, Endeavor gains control of two of the biggest combat sports promotions with strategically esoteric offerings. With the UFC, the holding company appeals to fans who crave authentic, brutal, spontaneous, and unscripted mixed martial arts bouts. However, acquiring WWE also allows Endeavor to offer scripted and dramatic competitive fighting to fans who crave such.
It is also worth noting that there are already crossover athletes between both combat promotions. For example, current WWE superstars Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey also previously competed under the UFC banner. The duo were one-time UFC champions in their respective weight classes and have also held WWE championships numerous times.
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