UFC And WWE Complete Merger, Will Proceed As TKO Group Holdings Inc

The behemoths of wrestling and MMA are now under the same banner
13:00, 13 Sep 2023

UFC has officially merged with WWE to form a new business: TKO Group Holdings Inc. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc and Endeavor Group Holdings Inc, the parent company of the UFC, now exist together under one umbrella. For the first time in company history, WWE is no longer majority-controlled by the McMahon family. 

Vince McMahon Jr bought Capitol Wrestling Corporation from his father, Vince Sr, for a sum of $1 million in 1982. The merger deal closed for a reported $21.4 billion. It represents a paradigm shift in the worlds of Mixed Martial Arts and professional wrestling.


The two companies had existed as indirect competition for decades, often jousting for the same 18-34 male advertising demographic. While the WWE was a juggernaut in the 1990s, the 2005 introduction of The Ultimate Fighter reality show saw the cage-fighting behemoth win the battle for hearts and minds.

In recent years, the two companies have been more co-operative. This more collaborative spirit was best exemplified in 2016, when WWE allowed Brock Lesnar to fight Mark Hunt at UFC 200 while under contract with them. 

With WWE pivoting to a more family friendly offering in recent years and UFC cornering the market in combat sports with numbers that regularly outstrip boxing, the two properties now feel complementary. TKO can be all things to all people. A one-stop shop of combat-adjacent sports entertainment.


In terms of cross-pollination between UFC and WWE, don’t expect that to extend much beyond promotional efforts. Each company pushing the other’s programming on their shows. The Miz and John Cena won’t be gloving up and walking into the Octagon any time soon. Though the likes of Lesnar, Ken Shamrock and Ronda Rousey have proven a move to the pro wrestling ring can be a lucrative post-fighting career. Conor McGregor in particular has teased making such a switch before. Even his arm-swinging ring walk is a conscious lift from Vince McMahon.

As for McMahon, he is being positioned as executive Chairman of the Board of the new venture. The day-to-day running of WWE will fall under WWE President Nick Khan, who retains his role. UFC President Dana White shifts slightly to CEO of the company. Ariel Emanuel and Mark Shapiro of Endeavor occupy the CEO, President and COO chairs of TKO as a whole. It is expected that Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque will continue driving the creative side of WWE. 

The effect of this deal could be seismic, or it could be incremental. Since Endeavor bought UFC in 2016, they have largely left the promotion to its own devices. They have streamlined the company rather than torn up the rulebook and there has been an adherence to the elements that made UFC work in the first place. WWE fans can likely expect the same evolution-over-revolution approach. Certainly don’t go into this Friday night’s SmackDown expecting Jon Jones to face Roman Reigns in a Hell in a Cell match, let’s put it that way.

ufc fight night odds*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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