Tech executives Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk suggested in June they’d be interested in clashing in a UFC-style cage fight, and egged each other on while tensions escalated between the two billionaires and their companies—but Zuckerberg downplayed the potential of a billionaire brawl Sunday when he said Musk “isn’t serious” about picking a date.
The idea of a cage match was first posed by Musk over Twitter, where the Tesla CEO responded to a thread about Instagram’s then-upcoming rival app Threads, saying, “I’m up for a cage match if he is lol.”
Zuckerberg responded the next day with an Instagram story showing a screenshot of Musk’s tweet captioned “send me location”—a reference to a famous line from former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (a Meta spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that Zuckerberg was being serious in his response to Musk).
As hype around a potential fight picked up, UFC president Dana White joined in on the anticipation, posting a video of himself sporting a Zuckerberg vs Musk shirt that was made available for purchase on the UFC’s website.
White was quoted in a July 1 story from the New York Times saying he would help organize an exhibition match between the tech CEOs and that they both wanted to fight—with both men agreeing there should be a charity component to the bout.
On July 3, photos of Musk training with UFC legend Georges St. Pierre, mixed martial arts coach John Danaher and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt Lex Fridman surfaced online—with an Instagram post from St. Pierre showing the four men in training gear.
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Zuckerberg, who is trained in the grappling combat discipline of Jiu-jitsu, also employed the training services of elite fighting talent in July—made evident by gym photos taken with UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski on July 11.
The two billionaires reinvigorated interest in a potential match in early August, when Musk said he was weightlifting to prepare for the fight, suggesting it would be live-streamed on X—the rebranded Twitter platform—and that all proceeds would go to a charity for veterans.
Zuckerberg responded to Musk’s posts via Threads, asking if a “more reliable platform” should be used for a live-stream of the fight and adding he was “not holding his breath” for a fight to materialize.
Days after calling the idea “in flux,” Musk said the Italian government agreed to an “epic location” for a fight that would be managed by his and Zuckerberg’s respective foundations, not the UFC.
Zuckerberg shot down Musk’s plans, saying, “if he ever agrees on an actual date, you’ll hear it from me,” adding that he’d prefer to work with professional fight promotions such as UFC and ONE.
Just days after Zuckerberg expressed hesitation about Musk’s commitment to the match, the Meta CEO posted on Threads on August 13 “it’s time to move on” because Musk won’t confirm a date, adding Musk said he needs surgery—and months of recovery—before fighting and wanted to do a practice round in Zuckerberg’s backyard.
The same day Zuckerberg announced the desire to move on, Musk posted a screenshot to X of the purported conversation in which he suggested a practice round; Zuckerberg responded over text telling him he should train on his own and say when he’s ready to compete, adding he doesn’t “want to keep hyping something that will never happen.”
In the background of Musk and Zuckerberg fight-related banter, tensions between the two have increased following the launch of Instagram’s Threads platform, a direct competitor to Twitter that launched July 5 and racked up its first 100 million users on July 10. That same day, Musk called Zuckerberg a “cuck” over Twitter and proposed a “dick measuring contest” with him. An attorney for Twitter accused and threatened to sue Meta for allegedly misusing Twitter’s “trade secrets and other intellectual property” and employing former Twitter staffers for help with developing Threads, labeling it as a “copycat” app of Twitter.
Musk biographer Walter Isaacson later claimed in a Twitter Spaces session that he doubted a fight would happen and that it was “a metaphor” for the competition between the CEOs’ rivaling social media sites.
-160. That was the hypothetical line DraftKings set in June for Zuckerberg to win the match, making him the betting favorite, with bettors needing to wager $160 on Zuckerberg to return a $100 profit. DraftKings set the odds for a Musk upset at +140, meaning a $100 bet would deliver a $140 profit. The sports betting company attributed the lines to Zuckerberg’s younger age and his regular physical activity.
A cage match between the tech CEOs might involve some parameters to account for their difference in size. Notably, Musk told White that he would not be willing to “lose any weight” for a potential matchup. Musk, 52, stands around 6’1” tall and has made clear on Twitter that he almost never works out. Zuckerberg, 39, is 5 ‘7” and regularly takes to physical training and competition, recently securing two medals in his first Jiu-jitsu tournament in May, though he was also choked out in one of his fights, according to the New York Times (Zuckerberg has denied the claim). Zuckerberg also seems to be the more avid fight fan, as he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, attended a UFC fight card last October.
We estimate Musk is the richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $225.2 billion. Zuckerberg’s net worth is estimated at $107 billion—placing him at No. 8 on Forbes’ list of the world’s real-time billionaires.