LAS VEGAS — WWE’s next big show is going to have some serious combat sports flavor.
Boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez have signed to perform in WWE Crown Jewel on Oct. 31 in Saudi Arabia, it was announced Friday at a news conference at T-Mobile Arena.
Fury will take on WWE’s Braun Strowman, and Velasquez will face former UFC foe Brock Lesnar, the WWE heavyweight champion. Velasquez knocked out Lesnar to win the UFC heavyweight title in 2010.
WWE Crown Jewel will take place at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. It is part of a 10-year, big-money deal that WWE has with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fury, 31, is the lineal boxing heavyweight champion. He is coming off a hard-fought unanimous decision win over Otto Wallin last month at T-Mobile Arena.
Velasquez, 37, lost his last UFC bout via knockout to Francis Ngannou in February. Velasquez and Fury already have appeared in storylines on WWE television to drive interest in these matches.
For Fury, this venture is expected to be a one-off, for the time being. He’s expected to face Deontay Wilder in a highly anticipated boxing rematch next year. The two fought to a split draw in a classic bout last December.
There reportedly are concerns from Fury’s camp about the cut over his right eye — suffered against Wallin — opening up in a WWE match. Fury needed 47 stitches for multiple cuts following that 12-round bout.
Velasquez, meanwhile, is expected to be in WWE much longer. Sources told ESPN that he has signed a lucrative, multiyear contract with WWE and has also notified the UFC of his retirement. He has been removed from the UFC’s United States Anti-Doping Agency drug-testing pool and the UFC heavyweight rankings.
The UFC did not immediately return a request for comment.
Braun Strowman and Tyson Fury have strong words for each other ahead of their match at WWE Crown Jewel on Oct. 31.
Velasquez made his WWE on-screen debut on SmackDown last Friday, confronting Lesnar. Fury has been on WWE’s past two television shows in segments with Strowman, including a pull-away brawl Monday on Raw.
With his signing, Velasquez joins the likes of Lesnar and Ronda Rousey as former UFC champions on the WWE roster. The two promotions have long had talent bounce back and forth, going back to the early UFC days when Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn were stars in both.
Velasquez, who leaves MMA with a 15-3 record, won the UFC heavyweight belt in 2010 and then again in 2012. He owns victories over the likes of Junior dos Santos (twice), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Lesnar, but injuries to Velasquez’s knees, back and shoulders marred his run atop the division.
He has fought just three times since 2013, dropping the heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdum in 2015 and rebounding to beat Travis Browne at UFC 200 in 2016. Velasquez returned to the UFC earlier this year against Ngannou with a provision that he also could perform in pro wrestling.
“This is definitely my focus,” Velasquez said of pro wrestling last week. “My family is into it. They love it. They’re super excited. I haven’t seen them excited over something like this in a while. It’s cool.”