The parent companies of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) have signed a deal to merge the two businesses with combined media rights and “enhanced” sponsorship.
Endeavour Group, the parent of UFC, will hold a 51 per cent controlling interest in the new company while existing WWE shareholders will have the remaining 49 per cent. The company is expected to be worth US$21 billion (around AU$31 billion).
“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor.
“For decades, Vince and his team have demonstrated an incredible track record of innovation and shareholder value creation, and we are confident that Endeavor can deliver significant additional value for shareholders by bringing UFC and WWE together.”
Both businesses have millions of loyal fans, willing to pay thousands of dollars for tickets and merch. UFC penned a deal with ESPN late last year for its media rights, which are worth around US$300 million (AU$441 million). WWE’s deals with NBC Universal and Fox are worth almost US$500 million together (AU$736 million).
“Given the incredible work that Ari and Endeavor have done to grow the UFC brand – nearly doubling its revenue over the past seven years – and the immense success we’ve already had in partnering with their team on a number of ventures, I believe that this is without a doubt the best outcome for our shareholders and other stakeholders,” said Vincent K. McMahon, executive chairman of WWE.
McMahon continued, “Together, we will be a $21+ billion live sports and entertainment powerhouse with a collective fanbase of more than a billion people and an exciting growth opportunity. The new company will be well-positioned to maximize the value of our combined media rights, enhance sponsorship monetization, develop new forms of content and pursue other strategic mergers and acquisitions to further bolster our strong stable of brands. I, along with the current WWE management team, look forward to working closely with Ari and the Endeavor and UFC teams to take the businesses to the next level.”
However, both businesses are no stranger to scandals. McMahon retired from WWE last July following revelations that he had paid several women millions of US dollars in hush money about alleged affairs and misconduct. He returned to the company in January. A video emerged earlier this year of UFC president Dana White slapping his wife during a public argument at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White has subsequently apologised.
In fact, WWE managed to put its foot in it over the last weekend during WrestleMania — its most-watched event. In a promotional clip for Dominik Mysterio’s (son of Rey) return to the ring, it included a clip of Auschwitz with Mysterio talking about how his hours-long stint in a county jail amounted to “hard time.”
wwe saw the accidental auschwitz and edited it FAST pic.twitter.com/eHnvoj1TqW
— forever botchamania (@Maffewgregg) April 2, 2023