UFC and WWE officially completed their merger on Tuesday following news of the professional wrestling company's acquisition by Endeavor earlier this year. The TKO groupand is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
TKO opened with a valuation of $21.4 billion. UFC's parent company Endeavor will own 51% of TKO and WWE shareholders will receive a 49% stake. The TKO board involves integral members of the UFC and WWE brass. Vince McMahon, formerly the controlling shareholder of WWE, will serve as executive chairman of TKO. UFC president Dana White will now operate as UFC CEO. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel will also be CEO of TKO and Endeavor executive Mark Shapiro will serve as TKO's president and chief operating officer. Nick Khan will function as WWE president.
Expectations are that UFC and WWE will continue to run as separate programs, UFC senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein told ESPN. White will continue to run the day-by-day of UFC and Paul Levesque will head up WWE creative. UFC and WWE may begin holding major events on the same weekend in one city and leverage their combined strength when negotiating with tourism authorities.
"Where we want to get is where every UFC fan is a WWE fan and every WWE fan is a UFC fan."
The merger also opens the door to future crossovers. Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey, for example, have already won world championships in both organizations. Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier recently acted as a special guest referee at WWE's Extreme Rules event in October. Cormier was present at Tuesday's stock exchange opening in New York.
"UFC fighters are going to stay focused on the UFC and WWE superstars obviously do something different in our ring," Khan said. "... But you also see in the UFC people with big personalities who, once their UFC run is done, once the UFC and the fighter says, 'Hey, maybe now's the time to call it a day,' could those people have a longer life at WWE, an extended life with TKO? We think so."
News of the merger first made headlines in April during the weekend of WrestleMania 39.