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It hasn’t taken long for some UFC fighters to embrace the news of the promotion’s recent merger with the WWE. Or show off their love for icons like Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. Endeavor announced on Monday, April 3rd that they had reached an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the pro-wrestling giant, bringing the WWE firmly under their wing in partnership with the UFC to create a massive sports-entertainment business empire.
To talk about the big news, FOX Sports Australia brought in two legends of the game. Well, of the UFC game anyway. They couldn’t get their hands on Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan, so UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski and former middleweight titleholder Robert Whittaker dressed-up as stars from the wrestling world to help announce the big news
Robert Whittaker living the dream as Hulk Hogan
“This is indeed a landmark moment for the world of combat sports,” said Fox Sports Australia reporter Niko Pajarillo on the recent merger. “We were going to do a fun WWE segment, but as you can see our co-hosts are nowhere to be found.”
Then the music of Hulk Hogan hit. It was ‘The Immortal’ Robert Whittaker, who donned Hogan’s patented red and yellow colors and sported a championship belt around his waist.
Then, another legend entered the set. The noise of glass shattering meant only one thing: ‘Stone Cold’ Alexander Volkanovski, a take on Attitude Era legend Steve Austin, was about to hit the stage.
Volkanovski’s outfit had less detail, just wearing a leather jacket, shorts, boots, and a couple of thin gold chains. However, he had an important part of Austin’s look down, that being a liberal use of flipping middle fingers at everyone else.
Wrestlers don’t break kayfabe
Pajarillo asked the duo which MMA fighter would do the best in wrestling (the WWE kind, not the MMA kind). With Volkanovski committed to his ‘Stone Cold’ gimmick and Whittaker attempting his best at a ‘Hulkster’ impression, they both picked themselves as the best answer.
“And that’s the bottom line, cause ‘Stone Cold’ said so,” Volkanovski proclaimed, jumping out of his seat.
Whittaker was quite committed to his Hogan cosplay, to the extent that the interview finished with him ripping his shirt.
Back to MMA for a second: what’s next for both Volkanovski and Whittaker is not known at the moment.
Whittaker last appeared in September 2022, when he went three rounds against Marvin Vettori for a unanimous decision victory. That put him back into the win column after losing in a second title fight to Israel Adesanya.
Volkanovski has defended his 145-pound belt four times since earning it off Max Holloway in 2019. However, he is coming off a loss, as he failed to capture the lightweight belt in February when he fought Islam Makhachev.
Neither Whittaker or Volkanovski have a fight booked currently, although Volkanovski is expected to face off against interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez sometime later this year. Whittaker had been connected to a bout against Paulo Costa earlier this Winter, but that fight fell apart due to ongoing contract negotiations between ‘Borrachinha’ and the UFC. With Costa’s new deal, it may be that the UFC re-books that bout.
News of UFC and WWE’s merger is massive for both companies. Rumors of the potential sale first broke over the weekend, with the confirmation of the deal being announced on Monday. The move means both companies will be listed under a new, single stock ticker, $TKO.
It also makes for a good excuse for any fighters who want to dress up as legends from the past, as seen in this interview.
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