IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Musk teases MMA fight but also says he needs surgery; Zuckerberg says, 'I'm ready'

The grudge match between the titans of U.S. social media may be headed for the real world as both men say they've been training for victory.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.AP; AFP

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg put a proposed mixed martial arts bout with Twitter buyer Elon Musk back in play Sunday by saying, "I'm ready."

Talk of a "cage match" between the titans of tech seemed to die down in recent weeks, but on Sunday morning Musk announced that his platform, now called X, will livestream the bout, which still lacks a date.

"Zuck v Musk fight will be live-streamed on X," Musk, 52, said on his platform. "All proceeds will go to charity for veterans."

Zuckerberg had not publicly confirmed that information. Also Sunday, responding to Musk's statement on X that he has been "preparing for the fight," Zuckerberg said on Threads, his newest social media platform, "I'm ready today."

"I suggested Aug 26 when he first challenged, but he hasn't confirmed," Zuckerberg, 39, wrote. "Not holding my breath."

Musk said Sunday evening in response to Zuckerberg that he may need surgery before facing off against his fellow tech exec.

"Exact date is still in flux. I’m getting an MRI of my neck & upper back tomorrow," Musk said in a post on X. "May require surgery before the fight can happen. Will know this week."

Musk and Zuckerberg are the second and 16th richest people on the planet, respectively, according to Forbes' last annual accounting. Zuckerberg says he is a self-taught programmer; Musk studied physics and engineering.

Their friendly rivalry got a little salty in recent months as Zuckerberg rolled out Threads, a Twitter-like platform, in a clear move to take advantage of users' and advertisers' growing dissatisfaction with Musk's reign at the platform that would become X.

"I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb with no other options," Musk tweeted June 20.

When an X user joked that Musk had better watch his words because Zuckerberg trains in jiujitsu, the Brazilian combat sport that is one of the core disciplines in mixed martial arts, Musk responded, "I'm up for a cage match if he is lol."

In early July the potential for pain got real when it was reported that a Musk attorney had sent a letter to Meta alleging that it misappropriated Twitter’s trade secrets and hired ex-employees in the lead-up to Threads' surprising debut July 5.

Meta's communications director, Andy Stone, responded to reports of the letter, saying on Threads, "No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing."

For now, the dispute seems headed for the cage instead of the courtroom.

The two Big Tech leaders, Musk of Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Co. and X, and Zuckerberg of Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and Threads, had yet to agree on a date, a format, a venue and rules.

Both seem to have settled on "cage fighting," an informal term that generally refers to the integral role played by the physical barriers in mixed martial arts as they’re used to trap foes, fend off blows and rebound from attacks.

In MMA, thin gloves are worn, elbow and knee strikes are generally allowed, with key exceptions, and wrestling adds another dimension to strategy.

Contemporary MMA started as a bloody, bone-breaking, last-man-standing sideshow in the desert dive bars and barren halls between urban Southern California and Las Vegas, prompting the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona to famously characterize it as “human cockfighting” in 1996.

But money, popularity and television have given the sport a deep cleaning, and bouts are heavily moderated by referees who are usually quick to step in during one-sided beatings.

It seems assumed the Big Tech fight would echo mainstream mixed martial arts bouts like those of Ultimate Fighting Championship, which use a 25-foot-diameter venue called "the octagon." The ring includes an eight-sided barrier made of plastic-coated fencing, measuring 5 feet, 9 inches.

In July, The New York Times reported that Dana White, the president of Las Vegas-based UFC, was trying to organize the Big Tech bout.

After Zuckerberg reached out to him, the publication said, White has had regular phone calls with both men to get them to settle on a date.