A ‘cage fight’ between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg may not be a joke

Special for Infobae of The New York Times.

In June, the day after Elon Musk challenged Mark Zuckerberg on social media to “a cage fight,” Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), received a text message.

It was from Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta, who asked White, director of the world’s top mixed martial arts competition — which fights in cage-like octagons — if Musk was serious about the fight.

White called Musk, who runs Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, and confirmed that he was ready to fight. White later relayed that to Zuckerberg. In response, Zuckerberg posted on Instagram: “Send me location,” a reference to the catchphrase of Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the UFC’s most awarded athletes.

Since then, White said, he has talked nightly to separate tech billionaires to set up the showdown. He claimed that on Tuesday he was in a phone conversation “until 12:45 am with those two and they both want to do it.”

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

White said that over the past 10 days he, Musk and Zuckerberg, with the help of advisers, have negotiated behind the scenes and are inching toward physical combat. While there are no guarantees the fight will take place, the general terms of the event are being worked out, White and three people with knowledge of the talks said.

White noted that the fight would be an exhibition fight and would fall outside of the UFC’s rights agreements and official jurisdiction, although he would help produce the event. White and a person familiar with the conversations said tech leaders agreed a philanthropy component should be included, and details are still being ironed out. Their preferred location would be Las Vegas, where the approval of the Nevada Athletic Commission is required. On Thursday, Musk tweeted that the event could also take place at the Roman Colosseum.

Zuckerberg’s friends and advisers have generally been supportive of the fight, two people close to him said, though others said a fight would be a distraction and not the best use of his time. A person close to Musk said that although he hated sports and didn’t seem to have the discipline to train regularly, nothing could be ruled out with him.

If the showdown between Musk, 52, and Zuckerberg, 39, goes ahead, it would be an unusual sight, even in the swagger-filled universe of the tech industry. Although Steve Jobs and Bill Gates used to come at each other, the closest the tech world had come to real sports disputes before this was between billionaire yachtsmen like Oracle’s Larry Ellison and SAP’s Hasso Plattner.

But two billionaire tech titans fighting, punching and kicking each other in a Las Vegas arena or in Rome? No one would have dreamed of it.

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

Zuckerberg and Musk have long vacillated between being competitors, frenemies, and outright enemies. Both have criticized each other over the years over incidents with Musk’s SpaceX rockets, the data privacy scandals at Meta and more. Zuckerberg recently commissioned a Meta team to create a competitor to Musk’s Twitter, codenamed Project 92.

If they take their rivalry beyond those taunts, White said he worries about the physical differences between billionaires. Adding to their 13-year age difference, Musk is said to weigh at least 31 kilograms heavier than Zuckerberg. In official MMA bouts, opponents are usually matched by 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 combat sports,” he said.

Zuckerberg is especially familiar with the world of the UFC. Over the past 18 months, he has embarked on a personal journey to gain muscle mass and delved into Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a grappling martial art in which competitors attempt to subdue their opponent and is used in boxing matches. UFC.

In 2021, Zuckerberg began training for fun, mostly in his garage, where he built what he called a “mini-academy” with a circle of friends who train with him. He said that he appreciated that in Brazilian jiu-jitsu it required “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 Khai Wu. In May, he competed in his first public martial arts tournament in Redwood City, California, which he attended undercover until he took off his hat and sunglasses to fight. He won gold and silver medals in the contest.

Musk, on the other hand, tweeted that he “almost never” exercises and once suffered a back injury that required surgery after participating in an exhibition with a sumo wrestler. This month, he said that he had trained in “judo, Kyokushin (or full contact),” two Japanese martial arts, and “street fights without rules.”

“Musk made it very clear: ‘I’m not going to lose weight,'” White said of Musk’s strategy for the potential matchup. And he says that he also asked him: “Are we going to fight or are we not going to fight?”

Talks of an exhibition match, a ‘cage fight’, between tech billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have progressed and the parameters of the event are being defined. (Nick Little/The New York Times)

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A ‘cage fight’ between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg may not be a joke