UFC CEO Dana White credits WWE’s Vince McMahon for bringing the combat sports promotion to Saudi Arabia for the first time.
Vince McMahon giveth, and Vince McMahon taketh away.
We just heard stories from UFC CEO Dana White about Vince McMahon’s business shark behavior over the years when he saw the UFC as WWE’s competition. At one point the former WWE leader blocked UFC from landing a massive TV deal with NBC.
But as bad as it is to have Vince as your enemy, it’s very good to have him as your friend. In a new article from Sports Business Journal, White gives full credit to McMahon for brokering the UFC’s first ever show in Saudi Arabia in March 2024.
“It was Vince McMahon. It was 100% Vince McMahon,” White said. “He made every call, he didn’t make one move without picking up the phone and calling me and getting me in the loop and seeing if I was cool with this and that. And he went from being, oddly enough, I don’t know why, an enemy [of UFC’s], to being an unbelievable incredible partner.”
Funny how a $21 billion merger will do that.
Up until this point, the UFC had exclusively dealt with another UAE emirate, Abu Dhabi. They’ve been very kind to the promotion, even helping them set up their Fight Island COVID bubble during the pandemic. But Saudi Arabia has been splashing the sports world with cash over the past decade, and it was inevitable that the UFC would want to get a piece of that.
The first serving comes March 2nd as part of the much-hyped Riyadh Season. No lineup has been announced, but given the special UFC event will be held at the 26,000 capacity Kingdom Arena, we expect a big card.
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