As Dana White stood at the New York Stock Exchange next to WWE chairman Vince McMahon at the launch of TKO Group Holdings Inc., he stood next to someone who was admittedly a longtime adversary.
Now both on the side of the aisle under the same parent company WME, White considers past transgressions water under the bridge. Things have certainly changed.
“My history with Vince isn’t a good one,” White recently said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “He tried to f*ck me so many times for no reason whatsoever except just to f*ck me. But that’s in the past. Now that Vince and I are allies, no one’s been a better partner than Vince.”
“… Since day one of the deal, it’s like I’m dealing with a different guy. It goes to show that when you oppose him, or he thinks you are opposing him, the guy comes after you blindly. Once you are aligned, Vince is an incredible partner.”
While not the same product, the demographic similarities have often long aligned UFC and WWE in the public conversation. Over the years, White acknowledged McMahon’s competitive nature, while also publicly downplaying any feelings of rivalry from his end.
In 2018, White attended WrestleMania 34 to watch former UFC champion Ronda Rousey perform in a match against Stephanie McMahon. In 2022, Vince and Stephanie McMahon, as well as Triple H, attended UFC 276 following the conclusion of WWE’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, which took place in Las Vegas on the same night.
White said his relationship with Stephanie and Triple H has always been pleasant. It was just about getting Vince to come around, which has happened.
White now goes as far as to call McMahon the “Michael Jordan of the business world.”
“We’ve probably spoken on the phone 20 times since the deal,” White said. “It’s all added-value conversation–with Vince doing work and raising the bar for both companies. … Vince McMahon, man, he’s an absolute savage. Even with the stuff that went down with us in the past, I respect it. I love killers. He’s definitely a killer. He’s the Michael Jordan of the business world.”
The UFC-WWE merger into TKO took place officially Sept. 12. While some speculated it would lead to more crossover between the two brands, White quickly shot down any prospect the products would change to cater to a general fan pool.