In one of the most remarkably believable stories of 2023 to date, two of the world’s richest men and CEOs of competing social media giants, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, have agreed to a cage fight. Who will win Musk vs Zuckerberg?
The Rumble in the Jungle. The Thriller in Manila. Tyson versus Holyfield. Mayweather’s and Pacquiao’s ‘Fight of the Century. McGregor versus Khabib. The list could go on.
Surely no fight in history, however, would be comparable to Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg going toe-to-toe in the ring. It wouldn’t be the best fight, and it probably won’t even happen, but just imagine: two of the world’s richest men, both enigmatic personalities, both heads of controversial social media sites, both, by my estimate, real weirdos. It would be a tech billionaire battle for the ages.
In theory, we’ve got a fighting medium. Musk tweeted: “I’m up for a cage match if he is lol”. In theory, we’ve got two willing participants. Zuckerberg screenshotted Musk’s tweet and posted it on his own Instagram platform (Musk’s Twitter can’t get all the action) with the caption “SEND ME LOCATION.” Alex Heath at The Verge reported Zuckerberg was indeed serious. Musk promptly tweeted, “Vegas Octagon”. Seemingly, we’ve got all the necessary ingredients to make this fight happen.
What is not yet known is the level of genuine animosity the two have toward each other. They are professional rivers, and Musk has ramped up the anti-Zuck, anti-Meta rhetoric since taking over Twitter, retweeting an article accusing his rival CEO of “buying” the 2020 election and describing him as “extremely partisan”. (The irony.) Musk has also fuelled claims that Zuckerberg is on a quest for world domination and warned: “I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb with no other options. At least it will be ‘sane’.”
That latest quip was in response to Meta’s plans to launch a new app, directly competing with Twitter. Codenamed by Meta as Project 92, it was described by the company’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, as “our response to Twitter”, adding users could transfer followers and information straight from Instagram. He then threw a subtle jibe at Musk, claiming: “Meta’s been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run.”
Whether or not they dislike one another enough to try and pound the other’s face in, I’m not sure, but it seems fair to assume they’re not great mates. It also seems fair to assume with that much money, that many shareholders, and that much at stake, stepping into an Octagon is a pretty risky move, and the fight may well be averted.
But that’s a boring way to look at it. A far better way to spend what may be a brief moment during which the fight seems remotely possible is to break down who might actually win it. So that’s what we’re going to do instead.
Musk has the natural size advantage. Online celebrity biographies never appear fully reliable, but he’s listed at 6ft 1.5, compared to Zuckerberg’s 5ft 7. That’s a pretty considerable difference.
If celebrity height is something of a guessing game, celebrity weight is even more so. It’s not even worth repeating the huge range of weights that websites estimate for the pair. It seems pretty certain, though, given his height and build, that Musk weighs more. He is, however, definitely a few kilos lighter than he used to be and has been linked with the weight-loss drug Ozempic.
From awkward Harvard computer nerd to awkward billionaire fitness fanatic. The transformation of Mark Zuckerberg is perhaps so peculiar because no matter how many muscles he develops or the weighted workouts he completes, he still just looks like, well, Mark Zuckerberg. Still, fair play to him. He recently shared that he competed a Murph – one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, one-mile run – in 39 minutes and 58 seconds. It’s an impressive time, but I did once play rugby with a lunatic who did Murphs for fun, and he was closer to the half-hour time. Just saying, Mark.
Elon Musk, for his part, has said the only exercise he ever does is lifting his children and throwing them into the air. He’s rumoured to have 10 of them, so it might be quite the workout, though I imagine it’s only the wee bairns he’s referring to here.
Zuckerberg loves to roll around on the mat and share his jiu-jitsu workouts. He can, unsurprisingly, attract some of MMA’s bigger names to come and spar in whatever complex he has, and he looks pretty handy. I’m no expert in the field, but if I was Musk, I would try and keep Zuck firmly at arm’s length and stay off the floor.
In the few hours since the fight became a possibility, Musk has openly discussed going a different route. He has shared with the world his mastery of a move known as ‘The Walrus’. It involves, in Musk’s ever-technical terms: “I just lie on you and you can’t get away.” It proves, according to Musk, why there are weight differences in MMA. Its effectiveness may soon be clear for all to see.
Does it help or hinder?
Musk wants to be a man of the people, and it’s easy to envision his dramatic entrance, smirking away. Zuckerberg, on the other hand, would be laser-focused. You feel by bigging it up to the crowd and treating it with his characteristic, outward irreverence. Musk will build himself a large enough safety net that he can shrug it off if he loses. If Zuckerberg takes it seriously and loses…well, that would be pretty embarrassing.
So, who actually wins it?
I say: Zuck. I’ll play bookie and give him pretty good odds, as well: 2/7.