The history of MMA fighters heading to WWE after their days in the cage are over is a long one, and some talents like Brock Lesnar have even gone back and forth more than once. With WWE and UFC now part of one company, TKO, that transition should theoretically be easier than ever.
Though everyone involved has said pro wrestling and MMA will continue as separate businesses just as before, the idea of UFC stars exploring sports entertainment after they’re done with unscripted fighting isn’t lost on WWE president Nick Khan, who said he can see it happening in an interview with ESPN’s Marc Raimondi.
“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.”
Though UFC CEO Dana White and his leadership team would probably be loathe to admit it, some of their top talent have been borrowing some pages from WWE’s playbook when it comes to fight promotion for some time. There have also been numerous post-fight showdowns to set up future bouts that play out in similar fashion to WWE promos — and are engineered instead of spontaneous.
Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier, now a key member of the UFC commentary team, has been a special referee for WWE events. Conor McGregor has made a number of social media posts hinting at WWE involvement but has yet to appear in pro wrestling.
If nothing else, TKO will make for less logistical hurdles for fighters who want to make the switch later in their careers, and while we may never see them doing so en masse, Khan’s acknowledgement of the possibility suggests it’s something that could pick up steam in the future.