The hypothetical clash between billionaires is beginning to take on a life of its own.
What initially appeared as harmless banter on social media between renowned visionaries Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg has swiftly transformed into a potential MMA showdown. As a result, UFC President Dana White is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to turn this into a reality.
During UFC Vegas 61 in October, the Facebook founder, Zuckerberg, was present in the audience as Yan Xiaonan secured a majority decision victory over Mackenzie Dern in the main event. The sight of the social networking pioneer at a UFC event was an unusual occurrence for the community, but Zuckerberg's growing interest in MMA has become more evident since then. Despite neither Zuckerberg nor Musk possessing any professional fighting backgrounds, they, along with White, are exploring the realm of possibilities.
“Zuckerberg takes this very serious, man,” White said on The Pat McAfee Show. “He’s very into this sport, he trains and has been training for years. Now he’s starting to compete in jiu-jitsu tournaments and the talks that I’ve had with Elon, Elon trained in martial arts, too. He’s done jiu-jitsu and he says, ‘Listen, I grew up in South Africa, I’ve been in a lot of fights. It’s not like I haven’t fought before.’
“You look at these two tech guys and nobody thinks that they can fight but they want to, it’s real, and we’ll see how this thing ends up. You know me, I’m working on it. I think that this will be the biggest fight in the history of the world and I think it will set a record that will never be broken if it happened. I like putting on fights that people want to see like this.”
Throughout history, it has become evident that "freakshow" fights have a remarkable appeal to the general public. A prime example is the crossover boxing match in 2017 between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, which garnered a staggering 4.3 million pay-per-view buys, ranking as the second highest-selling fight of all time. This number came remarkably close to Mayweather's highly anticipated dream match against Manny Pacquiao in 2015, which recorded 4.6 million buys.
In the case of Musk vs. Zuckerberg, it would unquestionably be a one-of-a-kind spectacle. Dana White acknowledged several factors that would categorize it as an exhibition match if it were to materialize, including the disparity in size and other related considerations. However, even if the bout were to take place in the UFC octagon, White would seize the opportunity to leverage the guaranteed spotlight by assembling an overall card brimming with genuine talent and promising up-and-coming stars. Rather than solely relying on the hypothetical charity clash, he would ensure that the entire event is stacked with captivating fights.
“If you’re gonna charge $100 for something, which would probably be the price for this thing, and these guys would raise possibly hundreds of millions of dollars for charity, you want to put on an entertaining card,” White said. “At least when people stay home on Saturday night and turn the TV off, they’re like, ‘Hey, well, we saw some great fights anyway.’
“This is the type of crossover fight that people who traditionally don’t watch fights, women, older women, younger women, you name it, everybody that could care less about a fight, this crosses over to everyone.”