Endeavor Group, which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), is merging with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to create a new publicly traded company. Per CNN, the new company, currently unnamed, is valued at over $21 billion, with UFC being worth $12.1 billion and WWE being worth $9.3 billion. The shareholder breakdown will be 51% of the company for UFC shareholders, 49% for WWE shareholders. Vince McMahon will remain the executive chairman of WWE, while Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel will be the CEO of the new company.
The merger is expected to be complete in the second half of 2023, and amusingly, the new company’s stock ticker symbol will be “TKO.”
“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed,” said Emanuel. Meanwhile, McMahon indicated that this new company might continue purchasing others, “to further bolster our strong stable of brands.” Whether that’s a good thing is up for debate.
To casual observers, the merger of WWE and UFC into a new company is pretty huge and unexpected news. The wrestling rumor mill had gone into a frenzy in recent months over claims that Vince McMahon had planned to sell WWE to Saudi Arabia, and longtime executives like McMahon’s own daughter had recently stepped down from the company. Wrestling fans have really passionate, really specific opinions about what wrestling should or should not be, so it’s not easy to say whether fans should be happy or deeply upset about this news. But at 77 years old, it’s clear that Vince McMahon still isn’t done surprising his audience, even after that whole temporary “forced retirement over hush money and sexual harassment” business.