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The ‘cage match’ between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg can’t be a joke

day after Elon Musk Challenge: Mark Zuckerberg on social media”a cage matchThis month, Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, received a message.

It was from Mr. Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta. He asked Mr. White, who heads the world’s premier mixed martial arts competition fought in cage-like rings, whether Mr. Musk was serious about a fight.

Mr White called Mr Musk, who runs Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, and confirmed he was ready to step down. After this Mr. White told that thing to Mr. Zuckerberg. In response, Mr Zuckerberg posted on Instagram: “Send me the location,” a reference to the catchphrase of Khabib NurmagomedovOne of the most decorated athletes in the UFC.

Since then, Mr. White said, he has spoken separately to the tech billionaires each night to organize a demonstration. On Tuesday, he said, he was “on the phone with both of them until 12:45 in the morning.” He added, “They both want to do it.”

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

Over the past 10 days, Mr. White said that he, Mr. Musk and Mr. Zuckerberg – with the help of advisers – have negotiated behind the scenes and are heading for a physical fight. While there is no guarantee that the match will happen, the broad contours of an event are taking shape, said Mr White and three people with knowledge of the discussions.

The fight will be an exhibition match, Mr White said, and outside official UFC jurisdiction and rights deals, although he will help build the event. Tech leaders have agreed there should be a charity component, Mr White and a person familiar with the talks said, adding that the details are still being worked out. The preferred location is Las Vegas, which requires approval from the Nevada Athletic Commission. On Thursday, Mr. Musk Tweeted That this event could also happen in the Roman Colosseum.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s friends and advisers have generally supported the match, said two people close to him, although others said the fight would be a distraction and not the best use of his time. A person close to Mr Musk said that although he hated sports and did not have the discipline to train regularly, no one could rule out a possibility with him.

If the contest between Mr. Musk, 52, and Mr. Zuckerberg, 39, goes ahead, it would be a rare spectacle, even in the vanity-filled universe of the tech industry. While Steve Jobs and Bill Gates used to snip at each other, this was the closest the tech world had come to actual sports fights. among billionaire sailors Like Larry Ellison of Oracle and Hasso Plattner of SAP.

But two wildly wealthy tech giants brawling, punching and kicking in Las Vegas or the Roman arena? No one would have thought even in their dreams.

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

Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Musk have long been oscillating between competitors, enemies and outright enemies. The two have criticized each other over the years, including over Mr Musk’s SpaceX rocket. data privacy scam on meta and others. Recently, Mr. Zuckerberg sent a team to Meta to build A competitor to Mr. Musk’s TwitterCode-named Project 92.

The UFC’s Mr. White said he worries about the material differences between the billionaires if they take their rivalry beyond those squabbles. In addition to their 13-year age difference, Mr. Musk is said to be at least 70 pounds heavier than Mr. Zuckerberg. In official mixed martial arts bouts, athletes are usually matched at weight.

Mr. White said, “We have two guys who have never fought professionally, and they are in two completely different weight classes.” Still, he said, “It will be the biggest fight in the history of combat sports.”

Mr. Zuckerberg is particularly familiar with the UFC world. In the past 18 months, he’s been on a personal journey bulk and delved deeper into Brazilian Jujitsu, a grappling martial art in which competitors attempt to subdue their opponent and which is used in UFC fights.

Mr Zuckerberg began training in 2021 mostly on a lark in his garage, where he built a “mini academy” with a group of friends who competed with him. He has said that he appreciates that Brazilian jujitsu requires “100 percent focus” and strategic thinking, rather than brute strength, to defeat an opponent.

Mr. Zuckerberg has sought out martial arts experts including Dave Camarillo, James Terry and Khai Wu. in may, He participated in his first public martial arts tournament in Redwood City, California, where he participated in secret—up until the moment he took off his hat and sunglasses to fight. He won gold and silver medals in the challenge.

Last year, Meta also announced that it has partnered with UFC to bring mixed martial arts fights to its virtual reality app Horizon Worlds.

Mr. White said Mr. Zuckerberg was really dedicated to the game.

“I’ve been talking to Zuckerberg for about two years now,” he said. “And it’s never like a joke or we’re joking and laughing.” He added that Meta’s chief executive was “very serious all the time”.

Mr. Zuckerberg is probably in fighting condition. Two people close to him said he has been exercising hard, going on runs and challenging friends and co-workers to beat his times. This month he posted a personal record completing the “Murph” challenge, which required completing a series of pull-ups, push-ups, running several miles, and doing hundreds of squats, all while wearing weighted, military-grade body armor.

He recently said, “I think doing sports that basically require your full attention has been really important for my mental health and keeping me focused on what I’m doing.” podcast case.

On the other hand, Mr. Musk has Tweeted he “almost never” works and once hurt back Surgery was required after participating in an exhibition with a sumo wrestler. this month, he Said He had trained in “judo, kyokushin (full contact)” – two Japanese martial arts – and “no rules streetfighting”.

“He made it very clear: ‘I’m not going to lose any weight,'” Mr. White said of Mr. Musk’s approach to the potential contest. “‘Are we going to fight or are we not going to fight?'” Mr White said Mr Musk told him.

This week, podcaster Lex Friedman posted photos of himself training judo with Mr. Musk. Mr. Friedman, who has also trained in jujitsu with Mr. Zuckerberg, did not respond to a request for comment.

At least one person doesn’t appear to be a fan of the fight: Maye Musk, Mr. Musk’s mother.

“Don’t encourage this match!” he recently TweetedWith two frowning emoji.

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