It’s been two days since the WWE-UFC merger first became official and many are still wrapping their minds around what it could mean.
That includes some of the biggest power players at the newly formed TKO Group Holdings, such as WWE President Nick Khan.
“The conversations are just beginning now,” Khan said during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast on Tuesday, noting that the company had just finished going through the regulatory process to make the merger official.
One idea, however, that’s already been discussed: a TKO All-Star Weekend of sorts, featuring both WWE and UFC events taking place in the same city.
“What everyone envisions is, can you set up an all-star TKO weekend where if SmackDown goes on Friday and the UFC goes on Saturday with a pay-per-view and WWE goes with a Premium Live Event on Sunday, can you do that from the same city?” Khan said. “Certainly a lot of cost efficiencies there in terms of production. But a lot of revenue efficiencies in terms of upside we think there as well.”
Such an idea is certainly intriguing, with Simmons noting it would be ideal for quieter times on the sports calendar, such as February. While WWE already has Wrestlemania in late-March/early-April and UFC has International Fight Week in July, a hypothetical All-Star Weekend would give both entities another tentpole event to pitch from both a live event and television rights standpoint.
The possibilities don’t end there, with Khan also noting that WWE and UFC are already in the process of evaluating their respective Premium Live Event/Pay-Per-View calendars. While the two entities will surely attempt to avoid providing direct competition for each other, they could also combine to create all-day television events while operating from different locations.
“If you look at the international expansion of WWE’s Premium Live Events, then you look at the UFC’s already expansion, even the show this past Saturday night from Australia, you could see a lot of events that, hey, WWE’s going at 3 p.m. Eastern from an international location. UFC’s going at 8 or 9 Eastern domestically, or the opposite of that,” Khan said. “We like that too because you have two gates, two separate merchandise. In theory, if you can get a government subsidy for the international show or a domestic show, you have subsidies and then boom, both events are right there.”
Ironically, one person who might have to be sold on such ideas is Khan’s counterpart, UFC President Dana White.
Speaking to ESPN, UFC senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein said of the merger: “Where we want to get is where every UFC fan is a WWE fan and every WWE fan is a UFC fan.”
Later asked about Epstein’s quote, White replied: “Lawrence, I love you — one of the dumbest statements of all-time. I don’t know why he said that. I don’t even know what to say to that. No, there’s no — there’s some crossover. Some people like WWE, some people like UFC, some like both. I don’t think there’s ever gonna be a day where we turn every UFC fan into a WWE fan or every WWE fan into a UFC fan.”
CEO of UFC Dana White was asked about UFC senior executive vice president Lawrence Epstein’s idea of wanting WWE fans to become UFC fans — UFC fans to become WWE fans.
Calls it one of the dumbest statements of all time and explains why he disagrees. pic.twitter.com/yaH0IlmU2e
— Wrestle Ops (@WrestleOps) September 13, 2023