WWE and UFC Merge to Form TKO Group Holdings

The merger between the WWE and UFC is official. The new media conglomerate, TKO Group Holdings, was created by Endeavor Group Holdings as part of the merger between World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. and Zuffa, the parent company of MMA leader Ultimate Fighting Championship. 

The marriage between WWE and UFC means TKO Group Holdings reaches 1 billion fans in 180 countries. Shares of TKO stock began trading today. “Endeavor holds a 51% controlling interest in the new company and existing WWE shareholders hold a 49% interest on a fully diluted basis,” reports Variety.

The Merger Marks the First Time the McMahon Family Has Not Majority-Controlled the WWE

WWE Corporate HQ Stamford CT jjron 02.05.2012 e1694539639989
Image Credit: Wiki Commons, By John O'Neill (jjron), Own work, Public Domain.

The WWE's Vince McMahon will serve as the executive chairman of TKO Group Holdings and owns 16.4% controlling interest; Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel is the CEO of TKO Group Holdings and owns 51%. “The creation of TKO marks an exciting new chapter for UFC and WWE as leaders in global sports and entertainment,” said Emanuel in a prepared statement. “Given their continued connectivity to the Endeavor network, we are confident in our ability to accelerate their respective growth and unlock long-term sustainable value for shareholders. With UFC and WWE under one roof, we will provide unrivaled experiences for more than a billion passionate fans worldwide.”

McMahon said in a statement:

“This is the culmination of a decades-long partnership between Endeavor and WWE across strategic initiatives including talent representation and media rights. Given our collaborative, trusted relationship and Endeavor’s incredible track record of success growing UFC, we believe WWE is optimally positioned for future growth and success as part of TKO. Our focus remains on delivering for our fans across the globe as we take the business to the next level alongside UFC and Endeavor.”

Variety lists the 11 board of directors at TKO Group Holdings as follows:

  • Vince McMahon, executive chairman
  • Ari Emanuel, CEO
  • Mark Shapiro, president/COO
  • Nick Khan, WWE president
  • Peter Bynoe, senior adviser at multinational law firm DLA Piper
  • Egon Durban, co-CEO of private-equity firm Silver Lake
  • Steven Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks
  • Jonathan Kraft, president of the Kraft Group and president of the New England Patriots
  • Sonya Medina Williams, president and CEO of Reach Resilience
  • Nancy Tellem, executive chairperson and chief media officer of interactive-video company Eko
  • Carrie Wheeler, CEO and board member of Opendoor Technologies

The WWE was founded in 1953 as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. The UFC was founded by Art Davie and Brazilian martial artist Rorion Gracie in 1993.