In April 2022, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced a bonus sharing partnership with Crypto.com that would see Mixed Martial Arts fighters performing on their cards receive their fight bonuses in cryptocurrencies. These can be lucrative bonuses depending on the size of the card, with $75,000 being up for grabs for achievements such as ‘performance of the night’ on some occasions. In today’s market, the perfect performance could earn a fighter over 3 Bitcoins…that’s a solid night’s work, that could be even more valuable in the future.
The link between the UFC and cryptocurrencies is arguably the strongest you can find in the sports world. The UFC, the world’s leading Mixed Martial Arts promotion, has always presented itself as not just ‘warm’ to crypto, but completely hot to it. It has actively pursued a crypto-friendly agenda, and even the most base level dive into the data shows that this appears to be more of a purposeful marketing strategy than just a form of opportunism towards a growing trend.
Here’s what’s in a partnership between crypto and the UFC.
Sponsorships — The Fundamentals
A core revenue stream for any major televised event, sponsorships are at the heart of sporting activity. Sport events bring audiences with them, and there are advertising opportunities to be found in venues, merchandise, television productions, commercial slots etc to talk directly to these audiences. One area in which crypto has managed to secure its slot within the UFC is through fighter uniforms.
Crypto.com is the official fight kit partner of the UFC, meaning that on every jersey worn by fighters, you’ll see Crypto.com emblazoned across the front. Whether it’s for a weigh-in, a walk-out, or a post-fight in-ring interview, you won’t be too far away from seeing their name. This deal is worth a 9-figure sum, and is according to Dana White, the CEO of UFC, a “partnership between two companies that are the best at what they do”.
The partnership also opens up negotiation lines between Crypto.com and UFC fighters to become brand ambassadors, which assumedly would see them remunerated in cryptocurrencies. This in itself means that the UFC will partner with a crypto payment provider as standard, opening the crypto world up even further to the UFC.
Flexibility in Purses
As previously mentioned, a result of the partnership between the UFC and Crypto.com is that cryptocurrencies are now a form of payment for fighter bonuses. During UFC events, fans will vote for the ‘performance of the night’, and the winner will receive their bonus in crypto. This is something that appears to have been welcomed unanimously amongst fighters, as it provides them with diversified income streams that they wouldn’t necessarily have experienced previously. It also provides a form of incentive for the real crypto enthusiasts amongst the roster.
Some fighters have gone further than this, too. A handful of top fighters in the industry have signed deals to have their fight purses paid purely in Bitcoin — including Brazilian strawweight Luana Pinheiro and flyweight Matheus Nicolau…also Brazilian.
Coincidence? Well, considering the inflation issues that the Brazilian Real faces against the U.S. Dollar — the standard currency fighters are paid in — hardly.
The Perfect Partnership?
The question here becomes, why does a partnership such as Crypto.com and the UFC benefit both parties so significantly, and work so well at tapping into each other’s audience bases?
Both crypto.com and the UFC will have undoubtedly done their research before striking a deal, coming to the conclusion that a working partnership would be rocket fuel to each other’s business ventures. The reason for this becomes pretty clear when you dig into the audience demographics of both parties, and you see that there are significant areas of overlap.
The UFC is a majority male-dominated industry, to the tune of approximately 75–90% viewership depending on the event. This audience is a young audience too, being approximately 60% between the age of 25–44. There will be a reasonable percentage below the age of 25 also, as UFC is generally a young person’s sport, however from a purely marketing perspective 25–44 is the golden age bracket. They more often than not have income to spend, and a willingness to dabble into new areas of the market. Nonetheless, if the UFC are talking to audiences under 45, they’re on the right track.
Now, hold a mirror up to crypto users, and we see a significant overlap — particularly from an age perspective. Just as the data points towards UFC being a young person’s sport, the data also points towards crypto being a young person’s industry.
Forbes data demonstrates that cryptocurrency is most popular amongst the ages of 18–29 year old males, with 43% stating they have purchased some kind of crypto before. 21% of 30–49 year olds have also, proving this young age demographic as the majority interest — a clear overlap with the UFC and a market synergy that makes total sense.
Interestingly too, representation of Hispanic communities in both UFC viewership and crypto ownership appears to be growing year on year. The Latin-American community have long been fans of mixed martial arts, with some of the world’s most legendary fighters coming from the region. Considering the troubles that some countries in the region are facing with the stability of their currencies, it’s no surprise to see Crypto.com cut through the noise and talk directly to their target market.
These observations aren’t even digging too deep into the data, but there’s enough meat on the bone for both parties to know that the opportunities for a successful partnership are there to be taken. When a partnership benefits both parties in such a balanced and equitable way, the mechanisms behind the success can only be admired.
As far as strategic marketing with a clear sense of purpose goes, the partnership between the UFC and Crypto.com, and the shared common interests between both industries in general, makes fundamental sense. There’s a clear overlap between audiences, interest in both industries comes from very switched on customer bases, and both industries are on the rise. There is a lot more to come from crypto and the UFC, and we can expect the UFC to lead the way in pursuing further groundbreaking partnerships with the industry in the future.