UFC and WWE to merge


By Cooper Woodward, Chief Managerial Editor

On April 3rd 2023, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White and Endeavor president Ari Emmanuel announced a partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to create a 21 billion dollar mega sports entertainment company.

In short terms; this deal is huge

In longer terms, this deal will be mutually beneficial for the WWE, Endeavor, and The UFC. The UFC will possibly see an increase in fighter pay, and potentially crossover’s between both promotions.

Like the UFC, the WWE will likely also see an increase in fighter pay with the potential of some fighters crossing over into the UFC.

And Endeavor gets a load of money to better improve the combat sports landscape.

In terms of the new hierarchy, Ari Emmanuel will stay the CEO of Endeavor, Vince McMahon will become the new Executive chairman of the company, Dana White will remain the UFC President, and Nick Khan will take over as WWE President.

The deal is not yet official and a ton of questions remain unanswered, but the impacts of this deal for the combat sports landscape is massive.

Potential pay differences

It seems like this deal will include a pooling of resources in a variety of diffrent areas such as finance, marketing, live events etc. But it may not increase fighter pay as many think.

When the UFC originally was purchased by Endeavor back in 2016, Endeavor cut costs, which included widespread layoffs and the percentage of revenue that goes to the fighters did not increase.

In all likelihood the biggest effect of the deal will be cross promotions. Examples being fighters from either promotions showing up to the other promotions events, and WWE adds on UFC programs and vice versa.

Media Rights

As of today, the UFC has a exclusive media rights deal with ESPN. There you can see almost any fight dating back to late 2019. That deal expires in 2025.

The WWE has deals with 3 separate media companies. Fox has the rights for Friday Night Smackdown, USA Network has the rights for Monday Night Raw, and Comcast/Peacock has the rights for all premium live events, including WrestleMania, Summer Slam and the Royal Rumble. The deal expires in 2025

The deal opens up the possibility of the UFC and WWE coming under one umbrella, which could be either ESPN, Peacock or a 3rd party.

Another driving factor is the potential of WWE “Premium Live Events” being put behind a PPV wall, similarly to how the UFC has there championship fights be under the PPV wall.

What can the UFC learn from WWE

While It’s difficult for me to imagine a reality where the UFC as a business’ is effected from this merger, the ufc does have some room to grow when it comes to entertainment.

Nothing beats a UFC live event. From the fanfare, to the lighting, the music and the overall feel, it’s truly a top level sports experience. However almost nothing can beat the bells and whistles of WrestleMania.

On April 1st and 2nd in Los Angeles California, the WWE held it’s 39th WrestleMania in the history of the company and it was the biggest one yet. Over 161,000 in person viewers across 2 nights and over 500 million total views.

That doesn’t include the 21.6 Million dollar gate and 20 million dollars just in sponsorships.

Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns had the most flashy entrances of the night, with reigns coming out to a set of pianists and Rhodes being greeted with an array of fireworks with his ring-walk. Although these entrances have not been incorporated into the UFC yet, for the right event, it could be possible.

The combat sports landscape is a ever changing one. New companies emerging left and right, and older companies continuing to make names for themselves. But in the era of entertainment and excitement, this deal will go a long way for endeavor to become a combat sports titan.