(STL.News) The massive success of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in recent years has seen fighters potentially earning terrific amounts of cash. The UFC is a championship bringing together Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) combatants in a variety of weight divisions.
Sponsorship and single big fight payouts help to contribute to the vast sums that fights can produce. The Pay Per View viewing figures for the biggest fights showcase exactly how popular the sport can get.
The most successful UFC fight in terms of PPV figures ever was UFC 229 between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor in 2018, which produced 2.4 million PPV buys.
It should be noted that the most profitable paydays are associated with big-name fighters, and only the best-known athletes attract the largest deals and viewing figures.
Sponsorship deals also play a significant part in the process of making large profits for the fighters. Reebok is the current sponsor of UFC’s fighter’s footwear and clothing, but that is set to end this year.
This could lead to fighters making their own deals outside whichever the main sponsor takes over the contract. While gambling on the fights is also hugely popular, with sportsbooks offering UFC betting markets hoping for the biggest names to be competing against each other, to generate as much interest as possible.
Promotional Lessons for Mayweather
The figure of Floyd Mayweather stands out as a leading example of how the UFC learned to market itself. Mayweather, as skilled a promoter as he was a boxer, takes control of every aspect of marketing a fight.
Mayweather helped to define a new era of boxing promotion, masterminding the spectacle of a fight down to the smallest detail. The lights, the staging, and the whole setup were devised by the boxer.
This is also true of the marketing, which Mayweather helped to put firmly in the spotlight. By making himself the center of every deal and of the fight itself, Mayweather set a precedent for others to learn from.
Mayweather’s deal with the TV network Showtime in 2013 guaranteed at least $32million per fight, plus a share of the PPV profits. Going for the best deal and working on every angle of it is part of the Mayweather ethos.
The next generation of fighters in the UFC has certainly picked up some tips from Mayweather, with the lines between spectacle and sporting match-up often blurring.
Marketing and the UFC
The much-mooted clash between Mayweather and social media influencer turned boxer Logan Paul is a brilliant example of how UFC pulls in an audience.
Paul is a skilled marketer and uses the power of his huge online following to build hype around his fights. So far, he has only had two fights against fellow online star KSI, losing one and drawing one.
But what Paul is lacking in big fight experience he more than makes up for in online presence and self-promotion.
Paul is one of the most popular personalities on YouTube, with around 23 million subscribers. While he has his detractors, he is adept at getting people to talk about him and his fights.
It is part of the nature of UFC that an important part of the fight takes place on social media and online before the match gets underway.
The buzz of a potential fight between the legendary Mayweather and the social media star has already generated plenty of conversation. It is a great example of the kind of crossover that the UFC does so well.
While Paul has his detractors, there is no doubt that he is extremely effective at promoting himself. A clash with the older by 20 years Mayweather makes perfect sense in terms of closing the circle of where boxing and promotion converge, with the old guard meeting the new.
Conor McGregor, a marketing heavyweight
The fighter Conor McGregor is another expert at putting promotion at the forefront of the marketing of his fighting career. As we’ve already seen, McGregor’s fights are some of the most popular in UFC history.
As well as the fight against Nurmagomedov in 2018 that he lost on that occasion, McGregor is also in second place in the top-earning UFC fights ever, with a win against Nate Diaz as UFC 202.
The hype and spectacle surrounding McGregor’s fights can blur the lines between winner and loser. McGregor lost in UFC 257 to Dustin Poirier by knockout but has not experienced any loss of fans or money.
Online conversations concentrated on McGregor losing rather than Poirier winning. UFC fans also speculated on whether they would see a rematch between McGregor and Nurmagomedov.
McGregor always puts himself at the center of any match. It is his larger-than-life personality and skill at ‘trash talking’ his opponents that have made him a superstar.
The fact that he is also a strong fighter has helped him secure a wealth of sponsorship contracts over the years.
With Mayweather vs. Logan Paul and a potential rematch between McGregor and Nurmagomedov on the cards, the UFC looks set to go from strength to strength.
The next legendary fighter will need to train just as hard with the marketing team as they do in the gym to reap the full rewards.