The seeds of the proposed fight between billionaire tech entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg were sown with a joke.
After Musk, Twitter's owner, commented about Zuckerberg's social media app Threads, one of Musk's social media followers jokingly warned him that Zuckerberg knows jujitsu.
The two never held a public conversation about the physical battle, but they spoke to each other through the social media apps they lead - Musk on the recently rebranded X and Zuckerberg on Threads and Instagram - baiting each other into what Musk called a "cage match." Zuckerberg replied: "Send Me Location."
Now, it appears that "Elon isn't serious [about the fight] and we can all move on," said Zuckerberg on Threads on Sunday afternoon.
"If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me," he said. "I'm going to focus on competing with people who take the sport seriously."
Here is what you need to know about the proposed fight:
Will they enter the ring (or the octagon)?
Before Zuckerberg's Sunday afternoon post, Musk had announced Friday morning that the fight would be managed by his and Zuckerberg's foundations.
Musk also mentioned the same day that he requires minor surgery and that "recovery will only take a few months."
Despite bookies' invitations to bet, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White's reported involvement with organizing the proposed fight, and both tech entrepreneurs' apparent willingness to battle, celebrity researchers told The Washington Post there is no chance the fight will happen.
"I doubt very much it will happen," said Mathieu Deflem, a professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina. "The idea itself is exciting, but the reality might be counterproductive and seen as off-putting."
Researchers said the fight itself is unnecessary because the point is to create publicity through talk of the fight.
Laura Grindstaff, chair of the sociology department at the University of California at Davis, said that it is "highly unlikely" and that the "hype is the show."
When would the fight happen?
The only date so far publicized for the fight is Aug. 26, which Zuckerberg suggested on Aug. 6. He wrote: "I'm ready today. I suggested Aug. 26 when he first challenged, but he hasn't confirmed. Not holding my breath."
The Meta CEO was responding to a post from Musk, in which the X owner outlined that he is preparing for the fight by lifting weights throughout the day. Musk doesn't have time to work out, he said on X, so he just brings the weights to work. That was the same day Musk said the date is in flux because he may need surgery because of an injury to his neck and upper back.
Musk, Zuckerberg and the UFC did not reply to The Post's request for details about the proposed fight.
Zuckerberg said that Musk has also asked to do a practice round in the Meta CEO's backyard.
Earlier, Musk said that the fight would occur at the "Vegas Octagon," referring to a UFC arena in Nevada, used to host Mixed Martial Arts events, and on a separate occasion he announced that the fight could happen in the Colosseum, in Rome.
Experts who study tech celebrities said the latter suggestion was "too unlikely to take seriously."
"I mean we know it's not going to happen at the Colosseum, this is part of the great publicity buzz they [Musk and Zuckerberg] are trying to generate," said Benjamin Little, a co-author of "The New Patriarchs of Digital Capitalism" which examines both tech founders. "Even the UFC is only promoting it because it's great publicity for them."
The fight is not on UFC's online schedule, which shows fight cards through Nov. 11.
What are the rules of the fight?
While Zuckerberg has hinted that the fight would follow the rules of mixed martial arts, Musk posted that his fighting style is inspired by World Wrestling Entertainment, which is scripted and somewhat choreographed.
Musk v. Zuckerberg: Who would win?
Oddspedia, a gambling website, has been calculating odds for the fight since June. As of Sunday afternoon, it gave Zuckerberg, 39, a 79 percent chance of beating Musk, 51.
Zuckerberg is an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter - he said he'd become interested "in the last 12 months" on an episode of "The Joe Rogan Experience" in August 2022.
He won gold and silver for the Guerrilla jujitsu team in his first tournament in May, he said on Instagram. He also completed the Murph Challenge, which involves "running a mile, then doing 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and then running another mile - all while wearing a 20lb weighted pack," in less than 40 minutes, he said.
Why do Musk and Zuckerberg appear willing to fight each other?
"It's a civilized form of war. Men love war," Musk said when an X user asked him about the point of the fight.
Zuckerberg implied that he is interested because he "love[s] this sport and will continue competing with people who train no matter what happens here," in a post on Threads.
Some researchers say Musk and Zuckerberg are having the public standoff in a bid to rebrand themselves and their masculinity.
"Seems to me these two culturally celebrated nerds are using this as a media gimmick to rebrand their masculinity (in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way) in yet another entrepreneurial adventure," Grindstaff, the UC Davis professor, said. "They're not only mind guys, they're body guys - watch them duke it out to prove their physical prowess."
Alison Winch, a co-author of "The New Patriarchs of Digital Capitalism," said both men have been on a journey to rebrand their geek masculinity.
"Zuckerberg has been doing by leaning into fatherhood, and Musk through his Iron Man persona," she said. "Recently, they are leaning into a more alpha male style."
Musk said that the fight would be streamed live on X, and that the proceeds will go to a charity for veterans. He did not specify which charity.
Little said the tech entrepreneurs are using publicity around the fight to launch new features on their apps, such as X's livestreams.
Why would audiences want to watch Musk fight Zuckerberg?
Researchers said the fight is an effective advertising strategy because it builds drama and tension among audiences.
Grindstaff, the sociology professor, described their attempt to be the "real man in the room" as "brilliant" because it intrigues all kinds of people.
"Some can see the fight as a cultural cartoon mocking traditional norms of masculinity, and some can see it as a serious affirmation of those norms," she said.
Others suggested that while the rivalry is strategic for both men to keep their celebrity flag flying high, it's also gripping for their followers.
"Conflict produces narrative," Winch said. "We are anticipating the fight, wondering who is going to win, and even in 2023 we are not past the fundamentals of a long-winded fight between two men."