U.F.C. Continues its Stellar Growth From Las Vegas

Tom Handy

U.F.C. fightUFC Image by Mirko Zax from Pixabay

Hong Kong’s Crypto.com opened a $175 million partnership with the sport Las Vegas Ultimate Fighting Championship (U.F.C.). The deal is for 10 years.

The Crypto.com logo will appear on the apparel of athletes in and out of the Octagon where the athletes fight.

This partnership opens another sports partnership for Crypto.com which recently closed a deal with Formula 1. The first event is the British Grand Prix on July 17.

Crypto.com has other sponsorships with the National Hockey League with the Montreal Canadians and soccer with Copia Italia.

This cryptocurrency company is appealing to sports to attract the younger crowd who are more open to cryptocurrencies.

For the U.F.C., this is their largest sponsorship deal.

The Crypto.com brand made its debut on Saturday, July 10 in the fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.

Since Dana White became president of the U.F.C. in 2001, the company has become a multi-billion dollar business.

The U.F.C. was founded in 1993 and purchased for $2 million in 2001 by brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. In 2016, they sold U.F.C. for $4 billion to Endeavor which Dana White deserves much of the credit. White held 9% of U.F.C. and made over $300 million when the deal closed. He bought a luxurious mansion in Las Vegas that includes a game room and basketball court that he shares with his wife and kids.

Endeavor was working to make U.F.C. a public company, but the virus delayed plans. Also, a lawsuit could shift some of the powers of the president.

“He lives for the people in his face telling him he can’t do it, he can’t win, it won’t happen,” Mark Shapiro, the president of Endeavor, said of White. “That just fuels him, it is like diesel in his veins.”

White was instrumental in the Fertitta brothers purchasing U.F.C. For years, the U.F.C. was frowned upon by the sports industry as too violent.

Early on, White was a fan of boxing as he taught classes in Boston and Los Angeles. Then he discovered mixed martial arts and wanted to take the sport to another level.

Under White, the U.F.C. has partnered with the sports entertainment channel, ESPN, and the deal is worth $300 million annually. U.F.C. has to show 30 events a year as part of the agreement. ESPN has exclusive rights to sell 10 pay-per-view events a year.

Here’s a video of Dana White.

During the pandemic, this has caused the U.F.C. to cancel several events. They were going to hold events in New York and California but ESPN back out of showing the events due to the virus. California state officials contacted Disney, the parent company of ESPN who expressed concerns.

White was determined to continue the events during the pandemic which drew odds from others in his company.

At the end of the day, if somebody gets sick, somebody dies on your watch, it is not going to be something that they want to live with,” Scott Coker, the president of Bellator M.M.A.

The company has canceled M.M.A. events in May and early June.

Legal disputes with U.F.C.

Fighters have voiced concern over their pay and long contracts. Six years ago, U.F.C. fighters criticized White and opened a legal battle that is slowly making its way in court.

Mark Hunt, the former heavyweight fighter, unsuccessfully sued the U.F.C. in a dispute over a $2.5 million, called White a “thieving little grub” in a video. Former featherweight champion Cristiane Justino, known as Cyborg, called White a “thieving little grub”. Former heavyweight Brendan Schaub, has said White “motivates by fear.”

White should be at the helm running operations of U.F.C. for years to come.

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