As the UFC were one of the first major sports promotions to get up and running during the covid pandemic, they could sign plenty of new sponsorship deals.
Not only were they up and running so soon, but the UFC has no off-season so they’re able to offer year-round promotion for all UFC sponsors, and also earn a pretty penny themselves.
2021 was the year Endeavour took 100% ownership of Zuffa, and the UFC, by taking the company public and using the proceeds to buy out the remaining shareholders at a price of $1.75 billion.
This means they were eager to sign many sponsorship deals to start recouping some of the money they spent. While there’s a huge amount of UFC sponsors, here’s a list of the biggest and best, including many of the recent deals since the covid pandemic.
BT Sport has had exclusive media rights to broadcast the UFC in the UK and Ireland since 2013, and in May 2022 the multi-year deal was extended. BT Sport gives fans access to all UFC live events, programs like UFC Countdown and UFC connected, and a fight library similar to the UFC’s Fight Pass, but not as extensive.
The deal is great for both as they will have worked together for over a decade before this new contract expires. For BT, the UFC has a lot of fans in the UK and Ireland, to who they can sell TV and streaming deals, with the cheapest being £16 ($20) a month, for a minimum of 2 years; or £25 a month for streaming access only and no minimum contract.
Although the financials are undisclosed, you can see how BT can earn plenty from the partnership through millions of sales, while the UFC will earn a nice amount of money too – likely to be a minimum of 9-figures ($100 million) based on the other UFC sponsors.
On top of this, the UFC let BT Sport handle broadcasting and bring them many more fans as they’re the home for huge sports in the UK like Premier League Football, Boxing, Golf, and more.
This was a 10-year sponsorship deal worth $175 million signed in July 2021, running til 2031. As part of the deal, crypto.com branding will appear on the fight kits of fighters in the octagon, on the t-shirt they wear during their ring walk, on the clothing of a fighter’s team, on Dana White’s Contender Series, on the octagon mat, on UFC broadcasts and social media.
This was a great deal for the UFC as they could use the money at a time when sports across the globe were struggling, and they gain attention from crypto.com’s fast-growing customers. For crypto.com, as it’s mostly young people who are invested in them, they will receive a lot of business from the UFC’s young audience and many of the athletes who are heavily into crypto investing.
Not only this but as part of the deal, $60,000 worth of bitcoin will be awarded to fighters at PPV events. This is known as the Fan Bonus of the Night and is decided by fans watching the event, with $30,000 going to the winner, $20,000 to second place, and $10,000 to third place. This can be accessed at Crypto.com/FanBonus.
Each fan gets three votes for each PPV event, and this bonus was first started on April 9, 2022, at UFC 273, Volkanovski vs the Korean Zombie. This is an amazing idea, engaging UFC fans through a voting system and giving fighters an extra incentive to bring their best and be as entertaining as possible.
On top of this, the deal includes a licensing agreement for crypto.com to sell many unique UFC NFTs, in which the fighter receives 50% of the total sale price if the NFT involves them.
Fighter pay has been a big subject recently, and this is a good way to have fighters rewarded for what they go through and the entertainment they bring us.
This was a 5-year deal signed in 2021 and means the UFC announce DraftKings as their first official sportsbook partner. The deal was worth $350 million, split between cash and marketing in undisclosed percentages, but it’s reported the cash amount is low nine figures (£100 million-plus).
The UFC integrates DraftKings betting promotions into their events, and they have a DraftKings clock outside of the octagon and on the big screens around the arena, used as a round timer. DraftKings also has a spot on the octagon mat during select events and is integrated into all UFC content and platforms.
On the other hand, DraftKings integrate the UFC branding on their fantasy and betting products as they have the right to use UFC logos.
In such a huge sponsorship, DraftKings is looking to cash in on the 2018 ruling of the Supreme Court, which gave all US states the option to legalize sports betting if they desired.
As of May 2022, there are now 30 US states which have sports betting live and legal, and the number is continually growing. DraftKings has positioned itself as the main bookmaker for the evergrowing MMA sports betting audience and they’ll see huge profits from this over the next 5 years; especially when you consider Americans have spent $125 billion on sports betting since 2018.
Also, as Draftkings is a public company, they’ll likely see a huge surge in investment because of the UFC promotion.
The UFC and ESPN deal was signed in 2019 and is worth $300 million a year, for a total of $1.5 billion over 5 years.
The deal makes ESPN the UFC’s exclusive rights broadcaster in the US, showing all live events. 30 of these events will have a full card of 12 bouts and be aired through ESPN’S television network, with 20 events or so coming through ESPN+ (the company’s new streaming service), as well as all UFC Fight Night preliminary fights.
Dana White believes ESPN is the world leader in sports broadcasting and the sponsor’s good value for both parties. The UFC receives a boatload of money and attention from other sports who are paying for ESPN already, and ESPN gains many $5.99 a month subscriptions for ESPN+ so that fans can watch the UFC. As of the 23rd of August, ESPN has increased its prices to $9.99 per month or $99.99 annually.
To cover the $150 million for streaming ($150 million for TV), ESPN+ needs to secure subscriptions from 25 million homes, but likely more than that to cover other associated costs. This is fairly low, so ESPN will likely profit hugely as a UFC sponsor.
Love Hemp is a new brand founded in 2019 and became the official global CBD partner of the UFC as of June 2021, when they signed a 5-year deal. Love Hemp is a UK-based CBD and hemp specialist company and is using the UFC’s global outreach to position itself as a trusted CBD brand.
The sponsor makes sense for Love Hemp as many UFC athletes and fans use CBD for fitness recovery, and their sales will be boosted because of this. The UFC integrates Love Hemp’s branding on their online digital content (UFC Fight Pass) and social media, while Love Hemp has the ability to use UFC logos and trademarks in its advertising.
The financials of the deal are undisclosed but are believed to be a low 8-figure sum over the 5-year sponsorship.
Migu is a content and livestreaming platform, and a subsidiary of China Mobile. In February 2021 they became the exclusive Chinese broadcaster for UFC events.
The deal means they show a minimum of 12 PPV and 30 Fight Nights events and they’ll also show the Asian edition of Dana White’s Contender Series, which the UFC is using to scout for new Asian talent.
The financials are undisclosed, but in 2019 the UFC was looking for a 9-figure deal the next time Chinese UFC media rights were available in 2021; so it’s probable this is the minimum amount they earned from the deal.
The UFC also expand its business in China, where there’s potential to gain a lot of fans and host many UFC events – there are roughly 174 million UFC fans in China already (2021).
Migu, on the other hand, can use the UFC to sell access to their UFC Fan Club annual subscription package, where they have all of their UFC content. On top of this, both parties will collaborate in producing MMA content, such as reality shows, documentaries, and films; as well as content for the Migu Fitness app, where they also have the potential to earn money.
Modelo is a Mexican beer brand whose UFC partnership started in 2017 and was continued in 2021, making Modelo the ‘UFC’s Official Beer’ until late into 2024.
The financials have been undisclosed, but with the 2017 sponsor being a low 8-figure sum, it’s likely the 2021 deal represents something around the $20-30 million mark annually, if not more.
The UFC integrate Modelo on their social media, content platforms, and in the octagon – while they also have in-venue, digital, and retail platform signage. Modelo is also sold at UFC events. As part of Modelo’s advertising, they can feature UFC athletes, logos, and trademarks.
Modelo’s UFC sponsorship makes sense seeing as their brand slogan is “the fighting spirit”, which Jon Anik does a good job of repeating, “brewed with a fighting spirit” over and over during UFC events. Also, as the UFC is an entertainment event, drinking beers while watching is a given and helps boost Modelo’s sales.
Monster Energy has been the ‘Official Energy Drink of UFC’ since 2015, and they extended as a UFC sponsor in 2021 – where they also became the ‘Official Water of UFC’.
The sponsor isn’t the best in the world for the UFC, considering their athletes don’t drink energy drinks when cutting weight for weigh-ins, or ever. Monster Energy also doesn’t sell bottled water, which is what UFC fighters actually drink. However, they have recently started to sell Monster Hydro water, which is basically a zero-calorie energy drink.
Overall, the UFC sponsor will help Monster market new products, and marketing energy drinks to the UFC audience makes sense seeing as they can enjoy a high-energy drink for a high-energy show – and for all the fans who have to stay up at unearthly hours to watch the UFC.
The new deal kept Monster Energy as the largest, main, and centrally located octagon advertisement, as well as having the Monster logo at the entrance of the octagon. The logo also continues to be on all Fight Night apparel, and they’re the sponsor for the UFC’s Twitch channel.
On top of this, as part of the deal, Monster Energy is partnered with around 24 individual athletes, who hold up Monster products at the end of a fight, further increasing Monster Energy’s promotion.
Overall, although the financials are undisclosed, the UFC must be making a good amount of cash from this sponsorship, and it’s reported to be 50% more than the previous deal. For Monster Energy, they get front-and-center promotion from one of the biggest and fastest-growing sports promotions.
Another useful sponsorship, O2 Industries are a manufacturer of reusable and premium respirators, which are now provided to all UFC fighters for each event; another tick for the UFC’s fighter safety.
The financials of the deal are undisclosed, as is the length of the deal; although it’s reported as a multi-year deal so it’s likely to be until the end of 2023 or 2024. They’re one of the smaller UFC sponsors, so the deal is probably in the lower 8-figure region of around $10 million over three years.
The UFC features O2 Industries only in their Pay-Per-View events, but features them in telecasts, across UFC social media and content, and even sell respirators at some events – they also have a spot on the octagon mat.
Oscar Meyer is an American meat and cold cut producer, owned by Kraft Heinz, and signed as a UFC sponsor in 2018. They became the UFC’s ‘Official Protein Snack of UFC’ after the two co-developed the P3 protein pack which was certified by the UFC Performance Institute.
The sponsor makes sense because they’re able to collaborate and produce products that align with UFC athletes and the many fitness fanatic fans.
The P3 branding is present inside the octagon, UFC telecasts, and online media campaigns; while you’ll most often hear Jon Anik repeating “P3 is the UFC’s Official Protein Snack” during live events. As part of the deal, P3 can feature UFC logos and UFC athletes in their advertising and product sales.
The length and financials of the deal were undisclosed, but it’s a minimum of 4 years as they’re still promoted by the UFC halfway through 2022. It’s likely the deal is worth around $10-$20 million as Oscar Mayer is a subsidiary of Kraft Heinz, who in recent years cut their marketing spend to very low amounts, and they’re also fronting the production costs of the products.
Stake.com is a gambling and gaming company that operates with cryptocurrency, which became a UFC sponsor in March 2021. The two parties quickly renegotiated in 2022, building upon the prior deal and making stake the exclusive betting partner in Brazil. The deal means stake.com is the UFC’s “Official Betting Partner” in Latin America and Asia.
As part of the partnership, Stake.com offer exclusive UFC betting promotions, social and digital content featuring UFC athletes, and is working on innovative gaming experiences.
Also, Stake.com are allowed to partner with individual UFC athletes, and so far has Jose Aldo, Alexa Grasso, and Israel Adesanya as ambassadors.
Stake.com are featured inside the octagon during select UFC events each year, but most importantly they’ll be the presenting sponsor for PPV Brazil events. The two will also co-create content to be displayed across the UFC’s social and digital media channels.
Again, the length of sponsor and financials are undisclosed, but Stake.com also signed a shirt sponsorship with Everton FC in 2022 for $12.5 million a year, and as Crypto.com’s deal works out to be $17.5 million annually; the sponsor is likely worth around this pricepoint.
Overall, it’s a good sponsorship for both as Stake.com receive global recognition and custom, and the UFC gains attention from the cryptocurrency bandwagon.
TikTok’s UFC sponsorship was signed in February 2021 and is described as a multi-year partnership, so it’s likely to run until 2024/25. The deal means TikTok provides exclusive UFC Livestream content, such as pre and post-fight access, athlete engagement, behind-the-scenes footage, exclusive interviews, and more.
The two collaborate when producing exclusive live-stream content and will use the UFC’s Las Vegas headquarters for this.
The deal is great for the UFC as they add to their already immense online presence by bringing in TikTok’s younger audience. The extra content also gives UFC fans a more in-depth look inside and outside of the octagon.
On the other hand, the deal means TikTok continues to grow its online numbers by bringing in the huge global UFC audience. The financials were not disclosed, but based on other UFC sponsors, it’s likely worth at least $10 million annually.
The UFC’s 6-year partnership with Reebok came to an end after switching to Venum in April 2021. Venum is an official MMA and combat sports clothing company, that serves as the UFC apparel sponsor and manufacturer.
The deal is 3 years long and the financials are undisclosed, but it’s suggested to be less than the Reebok deal which was worth $70 million over 6 years – meaning it’s likely worth around $50 million over three years. Venum is providing all UFC clothing requirements and covering all costs, as well as giving cash.
With this deal, UFC fighters get a slight pay increase and it’s said the proceeds are going to the athletes, but the sponsor has been criticized because of its tiered payment system which is most beneficial for the higher-ranked fighters, champions, and long-serving UFC fighters; while not so great for the majority.
It also removes the ability for athletes to be individually sponsored, which is one of the best ways athletes from promotions like Bellator can make good money.
Other Notable UFC Sponsors
- Timex – named the “Official Timekeeper of UFC” with a deal signed in December 2021, and is offering UFC branded watches, fitness trackers, and more.
- Trojan – named the “Official Sexual Health Partner”, both parties extended their deal in April 2022. The UFC uses an appropriate tagline to promote them, which is “protect yourself at all times”.
- VeChain – they’re the first Web 3 and blockchain company to have a sponsorship with the UFC, and the multi-year deal is said to be worth around $100 million. They became a UFC sponsor in June 2022, and first make their appearance at UFC 275.
Please Sponsor Me
Since the covid pandemic and Endeavour’s IPO, the UFC went on a sponsorship spree; and while many criticize the way the UFC does business in terms of fighter pay amongst other things, no one can deny they do business.