By Seth Corwin, UNH Law Student and Legal Intern
Early Monday morning, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Wresting Entertainment (WWE) announced that the two companies would be merging into one new publicly traded company valued at $21.4 billion. The announcement comes after WWE’s annual “WrestleMania” event in Los Angeles this past weekend, where Roman Reigns defeated Cody Rhodes to retain his title as undisputed WWE universal champion.
As part of the deal, Endeavor, the company that currently owns UFC, will own 51% of the new company, with WWE shareholders maintaining a 49% ownership stake. It is expected that Endeavor CEO, Ari Emanuel, will serve as the CEO for the new company, while keeping his role as Endeavor CEO. Interestingly, Vince McMahon, who had retired in July 2022 and recently returned to WWE to oversee the sale of the company, is expected to serve as an executive chairman, alongside Endeavor President Mark Shapiro, for the new company. Meanwhile, Dana White is expected to remain president of UFC, and WWE CEO, Nick Khan, will likely serve as the president for the new company’s wresting business.
Notably, the merger does not come as a surprise to those in the sports industry, as WWE had been searching for a buyer for several months prior to Monday. Moreover, the deal highlights the growing trend of mergers and acquisitions between large companies in the sports and entertainment space (e.g., Microsoft purchased Activision-Blizzard, the gaming company behind popular E-Sports titles “Overwatch” and “Call of Duty”, last year). The deal between UFC and WWE is expected to close in the second half of 2023, pending regulatory approval.