By ALAN SNEL
After selling for more than $4 billion and opening a gorgeous new corporate campus headquarters complete with high-tech training center, the Las Vegas-based professional MMA fight club that produces better TV programming than most networks just doesn’t dominate the local sports headlines like it used to in Las Vegas now that the Raiders are building their $1.8 billion domed football stadium and the Golden Knights are spinning a Cinderella first-year tale.
But don’t feel too bad for WME-IMG’s Ultimate Fighting Championship.
UFC 219 on Saturday features an intriguing women’s featherweight title fight pitting Chris “Cyborg” Justino against Holly Holm, best-known for walloping UFC’s biggest mainstream star, Ronda Rousey, at UFC 193 in Nov. 2015.
And Las Vegas’ own Floyd Mayweather put UFC and Dana White back in the headlines recently when he said he could make a billion dollars in the UFC cage. But the retired boxer who goes by his “Money” nickname later clarified that statement by saying that he “could’ if he wanted to, but “would” not join UFC. Mayweather defeated UFC star Conor McGregor in a cross-over boxing match that drew 4.3 million pay-per-view buys Aug. 27.
But LVSportsBiz.com is going to shine the spotlight on a part of UFC’s business operations that get little publicity: corporate sponsorships.
UFC has staff dedicated to cutting these sponsorship deals, broadcast rights agreements and global licensing partnerships. In 2017, UFC piled up these new deals valued at millions of dollars in revenue for the multi-billion-dollar MMA fight and media organization.
“It’s something we work on every day,” UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein told LVSportsBiz.com.
Let’s take a look at UFC’s 2017 deals.
North American partnerships:
- Hospital for Special Surgery – “Official Hospital of UFC” (U.S.)
- Performance Inspired – “Official Supplement of UFC” (U.S.)
- 7-Eleven – “Official Convenience Store of UFC” (U.S. / Canada)
- Modelo – “Official Beer and Malt Beverage of UFC” (U.S.) – Begins in 2018
- BodyArmor – “Official Sports Drink of UFC” (U.S.) – Begins in 2018
- General Tire – “Official Tire of UFC” (Asia-Pacific)
- AirAsia – “Official Airline of UFC” (Asia and Australia)
- OSN – Broadcast partnership renewal for the MENA region;
- FOX Sports Asia – Broadcast partnership renewal;
- FOX Networks Group: LATAM – Broadcast partnership in LATAM;
- MATCH TV – Broadcast partnership in Russia;
Global licensing / retail agreements:
- Legends Hospitality – “Official Global Event Retail Partner of UFC”
- OPRO – The agreement allows OPRO, the world’s largest manufacturer of mouthguards, the rights to produce bespoke UFC branded mouthguards;
- DYACO – The partnership grants DYACO the rights to manufacture and distribute UFC branded combat and fitness equipment in both professional and retail markets worldwide, excluding China;
UFC’s $14 million training center, called the the Performance Institute, has also drawn new revenue-generating sponsors — companies that might shy away from UFC’s glitzy, bold Octagon cage image but still want to be associated with the UFC brand at the training level.
For example, the Hospital for Special Surgery, a New York City-based orthopedic hospital; Performance Inspired Nutrition, founded by actor Mark Wahlberg; and Body Armor have used the training center as a gateway to UFC sponsorships.
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