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The UFC’s sale to Endeavor is more than half a decade old at this point, and in terms of financial stability, it’s hard to see the move as anything other than a resounding success. The promotion’s earnings have increased steadily year after year, without any substantial change in the number of events or the price of the fighters competing on them. All of which likely has Vince McMahon smacking his lips in anticipation for the new WWE UFC partnership.
News that the massive pro-wrestling company is officially set to sell a majority stake to Endeavor, who then plans on rolling it into a single business entity with the UFC, broke Sunday after months of speculation that the WWE was planning a change in ownership. The combined sports-entertainment productions are projected to have a value over $20 billion. For fans wondering what that might mean as for changes in the front office of either organization, Ari Emanuel sounds like he wants to quell fears.
The Endeavor CEO spoke to CNBC about the massive changes afoot. More than anything he wanted to make it clear that the men in charge of the UFC and WWE aren’t going anywhere.
WWE UFC merger: Dana White and Vince McMahon are here to stay
“Here’s what we said, and I said it to [Vince] — if we disagree on something that we want to do, guess what? We’re not doing it,” Emanuel said of Endeavor’s plans for the WWE UFC (transcript via MMA Fighting). “It’s the relationship I have with Silver Lake. It’s the relationship that I have with Dana. Dana’s got the say as it relates to the UFC, Vince as it relates to the WWE. He’s going to have the say. We have nothing to do with the creative process. That’s Vince’s and that’s Dana’s situation.
“All the back stuff, we’re going to try and do what we do. I think that’s what he wants, but if there’s a disagreement, that’s called a relationship. We will work it out and that’s how we have it.”
Who’s going to be in charge?
In terms of actual structure, Emanuel will apparently serve as CEO of the WWE UFC venture, much the same as he has (and will continue) with Endeavor already. Endeavor president and COO Mark Shaprio is also expected to continue his roles in the new setup as well. Vince McMahon will take over as executive chairman of the joint WWE-UFC operation, with Dana White still serving as president of UFC operations. WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling promotion’s operations, with McMahon reportedly stepping back somewhat from the more day-to-day creative decision making for WWE product.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Emanuel added. “Because I’ve got Vince McMahon, a visionary that sees around corners. I’ve got Dana White and what we’ve built. That’s pretty unstoppable.
“Combined, it’s rarefied air, the two of us. I think the analysts will see it’s good for the shareholders of WWE and it’s good for the shareholders of Endeavor.”
Interestingly, following news of the planned sale, which is expected to be completed later this year, WWE shares fell 2% on Monday. Endeavor shares were reportedly down 5%. That seems unlikely to be any kind of longterm referendum on the merger. Endeavor struggled initially with the market in attempting to launch their 2019 IPO, but following a successful 2021 launch they’ve seen only increasing returns. It may very well be that this deal will be the kickoff point for a true media giant going forward.
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