Not even 24 hours after WrestleMania ended, the WWE gave the world a true mic-drop.
News broke Monday morning that Endeavor Group Holding, the top stakeholder in the UFC, has agreed to buy 51% of the WWE. The purchase forms the biggest merger we’ve ever seen in live global sports and entertainment. With the merger, Endeavor shareholders will own 51% of the company while WWE shareholders get the remaining 49%.
Endeavor Group Holding is led by CEO Ari Emanuel who will continue on in his role as the CEO for the merged company. Vince McMahon will stay on and proceed as the executive chairman of the WWE. The newly formed powerhouse is now valued at over $21 billions dollars. It serves to be a social media monster as well. Surpassing over 17.5 billion social and digital media views in January and February alone, 94 million YouTube subscribers and having 5 out of the top 15 most followed female athletes in the world prove they are still on the rise.
There looks to be big plans in the works as Endeavor is expected to create more content for both companies. Additionally, they are increasing more live events and boosting sponsorship licensing. The UFC signed an exclusive media rights deal with ESPN in 2019 and will look to renegotiate in 2 years since the new acquisition.
The Fighting Umbrella
The announcement marks the end to roughly 70 years of the WWE being owned and controlled by the McMahon family. Rumors came out earlier this year of to the possibility of Vince McMahon selling the WWE to companies like Disney, Fox or even Amazon. However, at least now, the sale keeps the company under the fighting umbrella. This opens up the possibility of crossovers between the two, as well. UFC star Connor McGregor has already teased a WWE run, involving himself in a social media spat with Roman Reigns manager Paul Heyman.
As a fan of both companies, I was already bracing for the sale and what this could mean. Now it’s just a matter of time to see what exactly the merger will bring to both sports. Will Triple H still be in charge as head of creative? Could this mean a more edgy product for TV? Would the next WrestleMania be exclusive to ESPN and turn back into full price pay per views?
It’s all questions I just don’t have the answers to, and doubt that we will get them any anytime soon. This move seems unexpected being that it is so soon after WrestleMania but, as they say, “change is good”. It’s certainly rare to see companies like this combing for the greater good of each others respective sport. I just don’t want to see a Battle Royale at UFC 290 or an octagon fight at the next Royal Rumble. Only time will tell…
Photo Credit: © Aaron Meullion-USA TODAY Sports
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