Tony Khan’s first physical altercation in All Elite Wrestling left him with a real injury at the hands of a former UFC heavyweight champion.
At Arthur Ashe Stadium in September for its “Grand Slam” show, the AEW president came out on stage to chastise the members of American Top Team – one the best camps in MMA, currently doing some work with his promotion – at the end of shooting for that week’s “AEW Rampage.”
Jorge Masvidal, Junior dos Santos, Paige VanZant and others attacked Chris Jericho and Jake Hager after their match with Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page, who American Top Team founder Dan Lambert have become an on-screen mouthpiece for.
Khan, who usually stays away from the action, confronted the MMA fighters returning to the backstage area after the storyline attack – and was taken off his feet by the 6-foot-4, 238-pound dos Santos. Khan ended up getting a couple of broken ribs in the exchange.
“He cracked them,” Khan told The Post. “I’ll be OK. But he legitimately cracked them. I’ll be OK. It’s been a few weeks, but I’m sleeping on my right side.”
Khan said the interaction was not planned and just kind of happened. He was also yelling at the fighters that they need to exit quickly because the show was under time constraints of a midnight curfew at Ashe.
“It felt just right in the mom ent,” Khan said. It was just kind of improvised. He’s a very strong man. I love the gasp pop it got.”
Upon returning to his chair to finish producing the show, Khan didn’t tell anyone about his injuries, saying he “no-sold it” because he didn’t want the doctor pulling him out of the chair. He made it clear that dos Santos did nothing wrong, calling the interaction as a whole a great moment.
“I was definitely asking for it,” Khan said.
Dos Santos’ debut match will see him team with Sky and Paige against Jericho, Hager and TNT champion Sammy Guevara on ”Rampage.” Masvidal will be in dos Santos’ team’s corner. For Khan, it’s a big deal for his company to have those big-name MMA stars on AEW programming. He “absolutely” thinks there are opportunities for more American Top Team members to step into the ring.
“We built something very strong now with American Top Team and AEW,” Khan said. “We’ve gotten great crossover media opportunities because of dos Santos and Masvidal and Paige VanZant, Andrei Arlovski. It’s given good visibility and credibility to AEW and also Scorpio Sky and Ethan Paige.”
Khan’s interaction with dos Santos showed him firsthand how credible they are.
“I’m fine. I’m a not wuss, but he did break my ribs,” he said. “So he’s going to be a handful in the ring for sure. I can tell you.”