While professional wrestling is prearranged, choreographed entertainment for the crowd, mixed martial arts, on the other hand, is pure, often brutal action for blood. The first discipline is represented by the WWE organization, the second by the UFC, i.e. the two biggest world brands in their fields. And now they will work together. In the world of sports entertainment, a new giant colossus appears whose value reaches almost half a trillion crowns.
The American group Endeavor, which operates in the field of media and talent, announced that it is taking under its wing the famous wrestling organization WWE with more than seventy years of history and merging it with the wrestling organization UFC, which it bought in 2016 for about four billion dollars. The merger will create a new, publicly traded company valued at over $21 billion. The contract should be concluded in the second half of the year.
“This is a rare opportunity to create a global, pure sports and entertainment company,” said Ariel Emanuel, head of Endeavor and also head of the emerging company, in which Endeavor will have a majority stake of 51 percent, while the remaining 49 percent will be distributed among existing WWE shareholders. However, the market did not react to the new news completely optimistically – shares of both brands fell slightly after the announcement.
However, Vince McMahon, the majority owner of WWE, thinks this is a real step forward. He was the one who spent many months looking for a buyer for his organization before reaching an agreement with the UFC’s parent company. “Ariel and Endeavor have done a great job growing the UFC brand – nearly doubling revenue over the last few years. I am confident that this is the best outcome for our shareholders.” McMahon mentioned.
He will serve as executive chairman of the new, yet-to-be-named entertainment-sports company, with which he also had WWE experience. After all, he was also the head of the most famous wrestling organization for forty years, but last July it was revealed that he had to pay various women to keep quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct, which is why he resigned from that position. general director.
His daughter Stephanie and Nick Khan have become co-CEOs of WWE – and the latter will at least keep his job, overseeing the wrestling business as such in the company. UFC president Dana White will also have a role in the new company, which will be listed on the stock exchange under the symbol TKO (abbreviation for technical knockout, a method of termination in martial arts), for which practically nothing changes.
The reason Endeavor is entering into this transaction, which WWE values at $9.3 billion, is the new revenue streams and unprecedented marketing potential. At least according to martial arts expert Michal Petrgal. “WWE is primarily a well-structured company that can be branded with almost anything. Thanks to that, he secured income from various parties and is not directly dependent on the given shows,” he tells CzechCrunch.
“Endeavor has long recognized the high value of WWE and for generating huge amounts of money every year (WWE made $1.3 billion last year – ed.) it is a great addition to the portfolio. Compared to UFC, which already has below, thanks to its product it can include whole families with children. So it has a much wider demographic,” adds Petrgál, who also hosts combat sports on TV.
The essential question for the average viewer, without whom no organization would have such a great reputation, is how this change will affect him. Opinions can also be heard as to whether the UFC, which is becoming increasingly popular in the Czech Republic, will become a similar “theatre show” on which the WWE is built. Both brands are in the true sense of the word fighthowever, one is theatrical, the other completely serious.
“With the exception of a cross-platform collaboration, it probably won’t appear on TV screens in any way.” WWE and UFC have been great rivals in the past, mainly in the area of pay-per-view (one-time payment to watch a show – ed.) and targeting the viewer, before the UFC caught the big boom and in many ways WWE was able to escape the point of view of the average viewer. Then, more or less naturally, there was a gradual separation of the fans.” says Petrgál.
“Each of the companies went their own way. Even if they come under one roof now, I definitely think they will still be run as two separate companies within one so-called mother. Unless there is some kind of earthquake in the management of WWE, that is, political fights, then it will not affect the product as such. It’s similar to when the UFC was sold in 2016. Practically nothing has changed except the form of payment for live broadcasts and their price.” supplies.
Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that WWE matches and professional wrestling as such are fixed, planned and properly rehearsed, they are receiving more and more attention. “It must be acknowledged that WWE is able to broadcast five hours of live content per week with an audience in the form of weekly shows, which is something unique in the field of television entertainment.” comments Petrgál, adding that the popularity is already reaching the level of the biggest sports leagues in America.
However, for many years WWE faltered in terms of creativity, where the matches lacked such a charge – and the environment was sterile rather than innovative. “It went into a loop. WWE has not been able to consistently showcase quality creative products. But that changed significantly in 2022 when the McMahon scandal was revealed. Although it has already died, it had the greatest impact precisely in changing the functioning in terms of creativity and structure.” says Petrgál.
In addition to the famous wrestlers, influencer Logan Paul is now helping the creativity in WWE – and maybe Endeavor himself, who has big plans with WWE, will step into it more. “This will be UFC 2.0,” he said Emmanuel pro CNBC. But what exactly is meant by that is still a question.