In June, the day after Elon Musk challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a „cage fight” on social media, Dana White, the head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), received a text message.
Zuckerberg, Metta’s CEO, asked White, the director of the world’s largest mixed martial arts tournament — fighting in cage-like octagons — whether Musk was serious about the fight.
White called Musk, who runs Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, to make sure he was ready to fight. White then forwarded it to Zuckerberg. In response, Zuckerberg posted on Instagram: „Send me the location,” a reference to the catchphrase of Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the UFC’s most decorated athletes.
Since then, White said, he has spent the night talking with individual tech billionaires to set up the showdown. He said he was on the phone on July 27 „with both of them until 12:45 a.m.” And he added: „They both want to do it.”
If you thought a cage fight between two of the world’s richest men was a far-fetched advertisement for social media, think again.
For the past two weeks, White said, Musk and Zuckerberg, with the help of advisers, have been negotiating behind the scenes and moving toward a physical battle. While there is no guarantee that the fight will happen, general terms of the event are being developed, White and the trio are aware of the talks.
White noted that the fight would be an exhibition fight, outside of the UFC’s rights contracts and official jurisdiction, and that he would help produce the event. White and a person familiar with the conversations said tech leaders agreed a philanthropic component should be added, and details are still being ironed out. Their preferred location is Las Vegas, where approval from the Nevada Athletic Commission is required. On Thursday, Kasturi Tweeted The event may also take place in the Roman Colosseum.
Zuckerberg’s friends and advisers have generally been supportive of the fight, two people close to him said, but others said the fight was a distraction and not the best use of his time. A person close to Musk said that even though he hates sports and doesn’t have the discipline to train regularly, he can’t rule anything out with him.
If the conflict between Musk, 52, and Zuckerberg, 39, continues, it will be an unusual scenario, even in the tech industry’s fraud-ridden universe. Despite Steve Jobs and Bill Gates attacking each other, it’s the closest thing to an actual sports brawl the tech world has had before. Among the billionaire yachtsmen People like Larry Ellison from Oracle and Hasso Plattner from SAP.
But two billionaire tech titans fighting, punching and kicking each other in a Las Vegas arena or in Rome? No one would have dreamed.
Meta declined to comment. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.
Zuckerberg and Musk have long oscillated as rivals, frenemies and outright enemies. The two have criticized each other for years over incidents involving Musk’s SpaceX rockets Data privacy scandals Target and more. Zuckerberg recently hired a meta team to build a rival to Musk’s Twitter, codenamed Project 92.
White said he worries about the physical differences between the billionaires if they take their rivalry beyond those scandals. Adding up their 13-year age difference, Musk reportedly weighs at least 31kg more than Zuckerberg. In official MMA bouts, opponents are usually matched in weight.
„We have two guys who have never fought professionally and are in two completely different weight classes,” White said. However, „it will be the biggest fight in the history of war sports,” he said.
Zuckerberg is particularly familiar with the UFC world. In the past 18 months, he embarked on a personal journey to gain muscle and explore Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a grappling martial art in which competitors attempt to subdue their opponent and is used in UFC fights.
In 2021, Zuckerberg began training for fun, mostly in his garage, building what he called a „mini-academy” with a circle of friends who trained with him. He said he appreciates that Brazilian jiu-jitsu requires „100 percent concentration” and strategic thinking to defeat an opponent rather than brute force.
Zuckerberg has sought guidance from martial arts experts including Dave Camarillo, James Terry and Guy Wu. In May, he competed in his first public martial arts competition in Redwood City, California, in which he took off his hat and sunglasses in disguise. He won gold and silver medals in the competition.
Last year, Meta announced a partnership with the UFC to bring mixed martial arts to its virtual reality app Horizon Worlds.
White said Zuckerberg is really dedicated to the game.
„I’ve been talking to Zuckerberg for almost two years,” he said. „And there’s nothing like joking or joking and laughing.” The Meta chief executive was „dead serious all the time,” he said.
Zuckerberg deserves a fight. According to two people close to him, he followed a rigorous training regimen, running and challenging friends and colleagues to beat his times. In May, he broke his personal record To complete the „Murph” challenge, Push-ups and pull-ups, running for kilometers and doing hundreds of squats, all while wearing a military bulletproof vest.
„I think playing games that require your full attention is really important for my mental health and for me to focus on whatever I’m doing,” he said in a recent episode. Internet.
Musk on the other hand, Tweeted Who „almost never” exercises and once He injured his back Surgery was required after participating in an exhibition with a sumo wrestler. Last month said He wrote “in judo, kyokushin (or Full communication)”, two Japanese martial arts and “street fights without rules”.
„Musk has been very clear: 'I’m not going to lose weight,'” White said of Musk’s strategy for a potential matchup. And he says he asked him: „Are we going to fight or are we going to fight?”
Last week, podcaster Lex Friedman posted photos of Musk practicing judo. Friedman, who trains jujitsu with Zuckerberg, did not respond to a request for comment.
At least one person doesn’t seem to be a fan of the fight: Mae Musk, Musk’s mother.
„Don’t encourage this fight!” Tweeted Recently, with two frowning emojis.
Ryan Mack is a technology reporter who focuses on corporate responsibility in the global technology industry. He won the 2020 George Polk Award for his Facebook coverage and lives in Los Angeles. @RMac18
Mike Isaac is a technology reporter and editor The Battle for Uber: Unbridled Ambition, about the dramatic rise and fall of a passenger transportation company, is on the bestseller list. He regularly covers Facebook and Silicon Valley, and is based in the Times’ San Francisco bureau. @Mike Isaac • Facebook