Oct 01, 2009 at 02:09 PM
written by Jordan McCreery

MMA Sponsorship Primer

Mixed Martial Arts, along with the UFC, has exploded over the past couple of years and mainstream sponsors are starting to take notice. Jordan McCreery of MMAAdNet and Magnetic Marketing Associates is going to catch us up on the intricacies of the business side of MMA through a regular series of posts starting today.

What is Mixed Martial Arts? When some people hear about the sport of MMA they often think of brutal, unsanctioned combat once referred to as human cock fighting. Much of the negative connotation surrounding the sport comes from the little knowledge and understanding people have of it. MMA is much more than just barbaric fighting, it’s a legitimate competitive sport and it is beginning to gain the respect and recognition it deserves.

The sponsorships and brands involved with the sport have grown tremendously as well. In the early days most of the sponsors were MMA specific brands like TapouT but they have now expanded to numerous industries including brands like MTX Audio, Max Muscle, Full Tilt Poker, Bud Light, Harley-Davidson, and more. As the sport continues to grow I believe other mainstream brands will become sponsors as well.

Despite Vale Tudo (Portugese for ‘Anything Goes’) being around since the 1960’s it wasn’t until Art Davie & Rorion Gracie held The Ultimate Fighting Championship 1 in 1993 that modern MMA was really born. This first competition was purposed to determine the most dominant fighting style throughout the world. 8 fighters of various striking or grappling disciplines were invited, most only being well versed in their one specific discipline, to compete in an anything goes battle until a winner was determined through a tournament format. Royce Gracie won this competition submitting all 3 opponents he faced in a total of 5 minutes using his families fighting style known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The purse for the winner of UFC 1 was $50,000. The show was also an instant success garnering over 85,000 PPV buys.

Since that November 12th night in Denver, Colorado the sport of Mixed Martial Arts has evolved not only in respect to the rules of competition but also as a business industry as well. It is no longer a ‘no-holds barred’ fighting competition but a sporting challenge with strict rules, timed rounds, and legislative bodies governing it’s competition. There are 100’s of sanctioned organizations throughout the world for both amateur and professional competition. The sport has been featured on network as well as premium television channels. The UFC itself as an organization has now held over 135 events in 54 cities spanning seven different countries and 24 different states. Over 100 of these events have been broadcast on Pay Per View with many being held in Las Vegas, often touted by UFC President Dana White as ‘The Home of the UFC.’

In my blog posts I will focus on the evolution of the business side of the sport in further detail, the UFC and it’s success and also the tight knit relationship between MMA & sponsorship in general. I will feature answers to popular questions as well as providing my opinion in an attempt give a better insight and more information about MMA and the business aspect of the sport from someone on my side of the cage. Have questions you'd like answered? Submit them in comments to this piece.

Jordan McCreery is the Director of Business Development for MMAAdNet.com as well as Magnetic Marketing Associates. He is an MMA enthusiast with a Marketing & Management background and works with both advertisers and fighters to grow the business side of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. You can follow him on Twitter via @MMAAdvertising.