April 24, 2024

Elon Musk challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a “cage match” on social media this month, and the next day Ultimate Fighting Championship chairman Dana White received a text message.

This is from Mr. Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta. He asked Mr. White, who is in charge of the world’s premier mixed martial arts event, which is fought in a cage-like boxing ring, if Mr. Musk really wanted to enter a fighting match.

White called Musk, who runs Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, to confirm that he was willing to give up. Mr. White then relayed the news to Mr. Zuckerberg. In response, Zuckerberg posted on Instagram: “Send me the location,” a catchphrase for Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the UFC’s most awarded athletes.

Since then, White said, he’s been speaking to the tech billionaires separately every night, organizing showdowns. On Tuesday, he “was on the phone with those two individuals until 12:45 a.m.,” he said. He added, “They all want to do it.”

If you thought the cage fight between the two world’s richest men was just a far-fetched social media stunt, think again.

White said he, Musk and Zuckerberg had been negotiating behind the scenes with the help of advisers over the past 10 days and were slowly moving toward a physical battle. Mr. White and three people familiar with the matter said that while there was no guarantee the race would take place, the broad outlines of an event were taking shape.

White said the fight will be an exhibition fight outside of the UFC’s official jurisdiction and copyright agreements, though he will help organize the event. White and a person familiar with the negotiations said tech leaders agreed there should be a philanthropic component, with the details still being worked out. The preferred location is Las Vegas, subject to approval by the Nevada Athletic Commission.Thursday, Mr. Musk tweet The event may also have taken place in the Colosseum.

Zuckerberg’s friends and advisers were generally supportive of the fight, but others said the fight would distract him from making the most of his time, two people close to Zuckerberg said. A person close to Musk said that while he hates sports and doesn’t seem to have the discipline to train regularly, no one can rule out anything happening to him.

If the showdown between Musk, 52, and Zuckerberg, 39, goes ahead, it will be a rare spectacle even in the braggarty tech industry.While Steve Jobs and Bill Gates used to turn on each other, the closest the tech world has come to a true sports feud before this is in the hands of a billionaire yacht Examples include Oracle’s Larry Ellison and SAP’s Hasso Plattner.

But what about two extremely wealthy tech titans scuffling and punching in an arena in Las Vegas or Rome? No one would think of that.

Mehta declined to comment. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

Zuckerberg and Musk have long vacillated between rivals, frenemy and outright foes. The two have criticized each other over the years, including over Mr Musk’s SpaceX rocket, data privacy scandal In Meta et al. Most recently, Zuckerberg dispatched a team at Meta to build a rival to Mr Musk’s Twitter, code-named Project 92.

The UFC’s Mr. White said he was concerned about the physical gap between the billionaires if their rivalry transcended the jeers. In addition to the 13-year age difference, Musk is said to be at least 70 pounds heavier than Zuckerberg. In official mixed martial arts competitions, athletes usually fight by weight.

“We had two guys who had never boxed professionally, and they were in two completely different weight classes,” Mr White said. Still, he said, “it will be the biggest fight in the history of combat sports.”

Mr. Zuckerberg is particularly familiar with the UFC world. Over the past 18 months, he’s embarked on a personal muscle-building journey and has delved into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a fighting martial art in which competitors attempt to overpower opponents and is used in UFC fights.

Zuckerberg started 2021 mostly in his garage for amateur training, where he set up what he calls a “mini-academy” with a group of friends who train with him. He said he appreciates that BJJ requires “100 percent focus” and strategic thinking to defeat an opponent, rather than brute force.

Zuckerberg had sought out martial arts experts, including Dave Camarillo, James Terry and Wu Kai. In May, he competed in his first public martial arts championship in Redwood City, Calif., which he competed in secret until he took off his hat and sunglasses to compete. He won gold and silver medals in the challenge.

Last year, Meta also announced a partnership with the UFC to bring mixed martial arts competition to its virtual reality app, Horizon Worlds.

Mr White said Mr Zuckerberg was genuinely committed to the movement.

“I’ve been talking to Zuckerberg for probably almost two years,” he said. “We’ve never been joking, or joking.” He said the Meta chief executive “has been very serious”.

Zuckerberg may be in a fight. He has followed a rigorous exercise program, running and challenging friends and colleagues to beat his own times, according to two people close to him.This month, he released a personal record Complete the “Murphy” challenge, This required completing a series of pull-ups, push-ups, running miles and performing hundreds of squats, all while wearing weighted military-grade body armor.

“I think playing sports that basically require full concentration is really important for my mental health and the way I stay focused on everything I do,” he said in a recent podcast episode.

On the other hand, Mr. Musk tweet He “almost never” works out, once back injury Needed surgery after participating in a sumo wrestler exhibition match.this month, he explain He is trained in “Judo, Kyokushin (full contact)” (two Japanese martial arts) and “Irregular Street Fighting”.

“He made it clear: ‘I’m not going to lose weight,'” White said of Musk’s attitude toward the potential matchup. “‘Are we going to fight or not?'” White said, as Musk told him.

This week, podcaster Lex Fridman posted photos of himself training jujitsu with Musk. Friedman, who also trained jiu-jitsu with Zuckerberg, did not respond to a request for comment.

At least one person didn’t seem to like fighting: Mr. Musk’s mother, Maye Musk.

“Don’t encourage the game!” she recently tweetand two frowning emojis.

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