Following the recent news of the merger between the UFC and WWE parent company Endeavor, valued at $21.4 billion, UFC President Dana White spoke to the Associated Press to temper any expectations of cross-promotional fights between the two sports.
While the deal has caused a stir among fighters, fans, and media, White emphasized that the UFC and WWE still have major differences that won't be resolved by the partnership.
“The difference between the UFC and the WWE is you look at the WWE and they have an entertainment value and they have these guys that are incredible athletes that go in there and do their thing,” White said. “It’s well known that it’s scripted. When you look at the UFC, this is as real as it gets, that’s our tagline.
“You have these guys that are incredible athletes, they have to be well-rounded and well-versed in all these different aspects of martial arts. Then you have the entertainment side of it too, but it’s real fighting. It’s real. There are no predetermined outcomes in the UFC. There won’t really be any type of crossover.”
While MMA and professional wrestling have historical roots in common, they also share promotional similarities, and athletes from both sports have successfully crossed over to the other side. UFC pioneer Ken Shamrock, for instance, was a standout in pro wrestling before becoming one of the UFC's first stars, then parlayed his fame into a successful run with the WWE.
Brock Lesnar, a WWE superstar, became the UFC heavyweight champion during his time inside the octagon, and former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is currently one of the biggest names on the WWE roster. Additionally, UFC stars such as Conor McGregor, Colby Covington, and Michael Chandler have drawn inspiration directly from the world of pro wrestling.
However, for White, the biggest concern is not the potential crossover of talent but rather the sharing of resources that comes with the recent merger between the UFC and the WWE.
“You have the power of the fan base of the WWE, you have the power of the fan base of the UFC, and you have the power of the viral—I don’t even know what the hell this thing is yet, the viral ability and whatever that fan base is going to be for Power Slap and we can reach all these people in so many different ways,” White said. “There’s just a lot more resources now.
“WWE has a lot more resources. It’s a phone call away now. All they’ve got to do is pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, how did this happen? I need this’ or ‘I need this contact’ or ‘how did you do this?’ and you all work together to make sure that everybody wins.”