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THE POWER OF THE PIN - April 9, 2023: Will there be a 'Bo Jackson of Combat Sports?'

Updated: May 6, 2023

With the UFC and WWE now under the same umbrella, could we see a competitor excel and become a champion in both promotions at the same time?

The sale of World Wrestling Entertainment to Endeavor, along with its pairing with the UFC, has opened up a lot of doors to the future. The powerful combination of the two most popular combat sports promotions in the world is more than kind of a big deal. It represents what’s likely to be a major shake-up in how we view both entertainment genres.

For the most part, it appears any melding of the two will be at the corporate level - at least in the beginning. But, eventually, you know the call from fans of both sports for co-branded events, and possibly even some crossover fights, will eventually make the rounds. It’s just too enticing to pass up.

For years, we have had a fascination with the relationship between MMA and professional wrestling. While one is based on competition and the other in the storyline, their athletes and the general premise are so similar that they are almost like bastard cousins to one another. Apparently, it was time for a family reunion.

We have seen both wrestlers and mixed-martial artists go back and forth into one another’s worlds - with varying degrees of success. Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey have starred on both platforms, while many others have had limited success in either one field or the other. And in some cases? Neither.

But due to the fact that WWE and UFC operated within their own worlds -and most importantly, their own contracts - no one effectively competed in both at the same time. Lesnar is probably the most celebrated of all, having won the coveted UFC Heavyweight Championship, after an NCAA Championship on the mat at Minnesota.

Obviously, The Beast Incarnate will go down as one of the biggest draws in the history of sports entertainment, as well. He’s a Hall of Fame superstar, and quite literally one of the greatest all-around athletes ever. His physical attributes, even beyond his enormous strength, almost defy logic.

If this deal had been struck around 10 years ago, there’s a good chance that Brock Lesnar would have had an opportunity to hold both the UFC Championship and WWE Championship at the same time.

With both of them under one roof, that would be easy to make happen, provided Lesnar (or whoever) was already the Ultimate Fighting champ. Pro wrestling could script its way around that, and add their belt to the mix. That would basically make the individual a ‘two-sport star’, even if Vince McMahon’s promotion isn’t recognized as an official league.

In the early 90s, former Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson became famous worldwide for playing in both the NFL and Major League Baseball at the same time. The fact that he played both at the highest level and was an elite athlete made him a star. But his charisma made him marketable, too. Nike launched an entire campaign around Jackson’s amazing feats, with the ‘Bo Knows’ series of commercials.

That story ended abruptly, as Jackson was injured in a game in the NFL that essentially ended his prowess on the field or the diamond. But the example remains the same.

People were amazed by the thought of this man excelling in two different worlds. It made him seem supreme in so many ways because it was something most of us had never seen before.

So? Could that repeat itself now with the UFC & WWE? Could someone end up becoming the ‘Bo Jackson of Combat Sports’? Could one man dominate both promotions?

The hype alone, along with the image of one warrior, basically being portrayed as the baddest human being to walk the Earth? That would be priceless. The Undisputed Combat Sports Champion would be a household name and likely one of the most recognizable celebrities in the entire world. A sports figure on the level of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods… globally recognized as the face of their genre.

It would mean huge money and potentially intriguing events. What if the champion defended his UFC title on a Saturday night, and then had a bout at a premium WWE event the next? Or if that isn’t possible, just an appearance on both would be enough.

(Quick note: the UFC Championship belt has made an appearance on a WWE performer before when Dan Severn would carry all his titles with him back on TV in the late 90s.)

This individual could not only be the spokesman for both companies, but for a large streaming service or network that offers all of their future events. Undoubtedly, they would become the first icon in a new era. An era where the lines are slightly blurred between sports entertainment and mixed martial arts. Possibly even achieving a balance that is more entertaining than either product we see today.

Of course, you would have to have a dominant UFC titleholder that looks like they can stay in that spot for a while. And to be fair, that’s been an issue in the past. While WWE can book Roman Reigns to be their champion until the cows come home, real fights have real outcomes. So, you would need an Ultimate Fighter to be almost as dominant as Mike Tyson was during his early boxing days to ensure that they could hold that spot.

Right now, the only person who could possibly fill that role is UFC Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. At 27-1-1, he’s about as dominant a champion as you can find right now who could also be believable in WWE. He’s 6’4”, 250 pounds, and an accomplished amateur star on the mat. Someone like him might fit the bill someday.

Unfortunately, if it ever happens? That someday will be a long time from now. The two promotions will likely take a long time to really get a feel for how they want to work together. So something like co-promoted events or dual champions might still be years away. By then, Jon Jones, Brock Lesanr, and just about anyone else in their prime today wouldn’t be capable of filling that role.

But could it happen eventually? Of Course. As a matter of fact, with the marketing minds that have now come together under the Endeavor umbrella, it’s likely that it will take place at some point. Someone will emerge who is a special, one-in-a-lifetime athlete. Someone who is charismatic and personable, and has all the makings of an international icon.

The only question may be when? How soon before someone steps forward and claims the mantle of being the champion of all champions?

When will we find out if someone in Combat Sports knows what Bo Knows?


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