UFC President Dana White and WWE chairman Vince McMahon haven't always seen eye to eye, but White made it clear recently that he has a great deal of respect for the professional wrestling power player.
In an interview on WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair's podcast (h/t Damon Martin of FoxSports.com), White discussed the past difficulties of negotiating with McMahon but said they have made significant strides in that area:
I think Vince and definitely Stephanie [McMahon] and Triple H—Stephanie and Triple H are always great, always cool to work with—Vince has been very difficult in the past but the past several years he's been much better. He's a [expletive] maniac, he's an animal, he's a competitor, he wants to win. That's his nature and I respect it.
The potentially lessened tension between White and McMahon has manifested itself in recent years, as the two sides have seemingly been more open to working together.
The UFC gave megastar Ronda Rousey permission to appear in a segment with The Rock, Stephanie and Triple H at WrestleMania 31. Also, WWE allowed Brock Lesnar to compete at UFC 200.
White revealed that making those crossovers happen was the highlight of his interactions with McMahon:
If you look at what Vince McMahon has accomplished in all of his years and to still be on top and still be doing it. The guy's got enough money, he's in it because he loves it, he's in it because he's still passionate about it. I would say that this last Brock deal and when Ronda went over did the WWE WrestleMania, those were the two out of all the years of dealing with Vince and everybody, those were probably the two best experiences.
Although the Rousey and Lesnar situations may have simply been one-off agreements, there is a great deal of value in WWE and the UFC having a working relationship moving forward.
There is plenty of overlap in terms of the viewing audiences for both products, and each company allowing its stars to work with the other could drum up interest in combat sports and sports entertainment.
It is well known that Rousey is a huge wrestling fan, and the fact that Lesnar competed for the UFC while under contract with WWE suggests that the door may be open for Rousey to do something similar with WWE down the line.
UFC's Conor McGregor has also been outspoken and critical of WWE recently, which has caused speculation that he could be setting the stage to do some work with the company at some point.
The UFC and WWE are both giants in their own right, but if White's comments are indicative of warmer relations between the two sides moving forward, the companies have a chance to be more lucrative and successful than ever before.
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