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Vince McMahon won’t boss around Dana White: ‘He’s got the say as it relates to UFC’

Endeavor CEO, Ari Emanuel, explained how the new company holding both WWE and UFC will run. It involves McMahon staying on WWE’s side, and White on UFC’s side.

UFC 276: Adesanya v Cannonier Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The recent acquisition of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) by Endeavor — parent company Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) — promises to grow the organization into an even bigger media juggernaut. But, many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans are a bit leery that WWE owner, Vince McMahon, is coming along for the ride, worrying that he’ll have a say in UFC operations.

During an interview with CNBC on Monday morning following the announcement of the WWE deal, Endeavor CEO, Ari Emanuel, explained how the new company containing WWE and UFC would work. Despite McMahon serving as Executive Chairman of the Board, he reportedly won’t be messing with UFC’s product.

“Here’s what we said, and I said it to [Vince] — if we disagree on something that we want to do, guess what? We’re not doing it,” Emanuel said (via MMA Fighting). “It’s the relationship I have with Silver Lake. It’s the relationship that I have with Dana. Dana’s got the say as it relates to the UFC, Vince as it relates to the WWE. He’s going to have the say. We have nothing to do with the creative process. That’s Vince’s and that’s Dana’s situation.”

Since buying UFC in 2016, Endeavor has largely left White alone to run the company as usual. There’s been two big exceptions: a $71 million cost-cutting process that saw many redundant or expendable UFC employees get let go, including legends still on the payroll like Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes. Endeavor also took over management of media rights, sponsorship and partnerships part of the business.

“All the back stuff, we’re going to try and do what we do,” Emanuel said. “I think that’s what [Vince] wants. But, if there’s a disagreement, that’s called a relationship. We will work it out and that’s how we have it.

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world, because I’ve got Vince McMahon, a visionary that sees around corners,” he continued. “I’ve got Dana White and what we’ve built. That’s pretty unstoppable. Combined, it’s rarefied air, the two of us. I think the analysts will see it’s good for the shareholders of WWE and it’s good for the shareholders of Endeavor.”

So, now Emanuel and his Dream Team will do what they do, which is tighten the ship financially. That likely means some turmoil behind the scenes on the corporate and staff side of things for both UFC and WWE.

During an investor’s presentation shortly after the announcement, Endeavor CFO, Jason Lublin, noted there were “significant operating synergies” — a.k.a. overlap in the things WWE and UFC did separately that can now be handled once under the new merged company.

Lublin told stockholders he believes half of all direct operating expenditures “are addressable,” pointing toward a pretty complete merge of the two promotions’ back-end structure over the coming years.

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