What does the WWE and UFC merger mean for wrestling fans?
WWE and UFC’s merger was officially completed on Tuesday
The merger of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was officially completed on Tuesday. The WWE and UFC executives have decided to name the newly formed entity as TKO, which reportedly has a valuation of $21.4 billion.
TKO has also been trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor, the parent company of UFC, owns 51 per cent of the new firm. The WWE shareholders, on the other hand, hold 49 per cent of TKO. Former WWE chairman Vince McMahon will be the executive chairman of TKO. Meanwhile, ex-UFC president Dana White will assume the role of UFC CEO.
Impact of the merger
The ramifications of this merger will be huge and the WWE and UFC fighters are even expected to make appearances at each other’s events. Though, according to reports, there are no such plans to make huge changes to the respective products.
Wrestlers like Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar have already won titles for both organisations and the latest merger will only pave the way for more such crossovers. Ex-UFC double champion Daniel Cormier had previously been a special guest referee at WWE's Extreme Rules show back in October.
"UFC fighters are going to stay focused on the UFC and WWE superstars obviously do something different in our ring... but you also see in the UFC people with big personalities who, once their UFC run is done, once the UFC and the fighter says, 'Hey, maybe now's the time to call it a day,' could those people have a longer life at WWE, an extended life with TKO? We think so,” Nick Khan, who will now act as the WWE president, was quoted as saying by CBS.
What happens to the media rights?
The merger, in all likelihood, will also offer a big boost to WWE’s ongoing media rights negotiations for RAW and SmackDown. Meanwhile, UFC’s current contract with ESPN is set to come to an end two years later.
"The creation of TKO marks an exciting new chapter for UFC and WWE as leaders in global sports and entertainment. Given their continued connectivity to the Endeavor network, we are confident in our ability to accelerate their respective growth and unlock long-term sustainable value for shareholders. With UFC and WWE under one roof, we will provide unrivaled experiences for more than a billion passionate fans worldwide,” Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel said in a statement.
The news of the WWE and UFC’s much-talked-about merger was first announced earlier this year in April. Dana White will reportedly take care of daily operations at UFC while Paul "Triple H" Levesque will remain as the head of creative for WWE.