UFC President Dana White has credited Vince McMahon as being completely behind a deal between the MMA giant and Saudi Arabia.
WWE’s partnership with Saudi Arabia to hold major shows in the country for eye-watering prices began in 2018. The company was criticised for the move by some, with the Middle Eastern Kingdom chastised for its poor human rights record. Despite that, Vince McMahon proved to be ahead of the curve as almost every other major global sport has become involved with Saudi Arabia as the country looks to broaden its appeal overseas.
WWE recently held Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, a show that saw Roman Reigns successfully defend his WWE Universal Championship against LA Knight.
With that in mind, UFC announced in October that the company was going to hold a show in Saudi Arabia in March 2024 for the very first time. WWE and UFC are of course under the same TKO Group umbrella and that link looks to have come into play for this deal.
Speaking to the Sports Business Journal, Dana White was asked how the Saudi deal came to be and he laid the credit directly at the door of Vince McMahon:
“It was Vince McMahon. It was 100% Vince McMahon. 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.”
Does Vince McMahon Have Power Over UFC?
In September 2023, Endeavor announced that its takeover of WWE was complete as the TKO Group was formed. Vince McMahon became Executive Chairman of the TKO Group as a result and is more senior in the company’s hierarchy than WWE President Nick Khan and UFC President Dana White.
While Ari Emanuel noted during the takeover process that McMahon would have the final say over WWE decisions, the reality is Vince McMahon has been sidelined with Triple H having full creative control in the company. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that McMahon will hold any meaningful power over the decisions of UFC.