The country’s leading mixed martial arts organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has announced a “groundbreaking agreement” with DraftKings.
In a press release, the UFC said DraftKings will become the organization’s first “Official Sportsbook and Daily Fantasy Partner” in North America.
The five-year deal significantly increases UFC’s presence in the betting industry and was described by ESPN as “one of the largest sports league-sportsbook partnerships formed in recent years.”
The deal is estimated to be worth $350 million.
What the DraftKings-UFC Deal Entails
- DraftKings will become the UFC’s official partner in the United States and Canada.
- The deal will allow for in-game promotions, activations, in-broadcast odds generations, and UFC branding across DraftKings’ daily fantasy and betting products.
- DraftKings will gain the right to use official UFC marks and logos.
- DraftKings will provide UFC fans with weekly free-to-play UFC games, enhanced prop bets, and other sportsbook opportunities.
- Ahead of the UFC 259 event held on March 6th, the sportsbook launched a free-to-play UFC pool with a prize pool of $10,000 for fans from across the nation to enter and compete.
Non-Stop MMA Betting Action Promised
The UFC had always favored the legalization of sports betting in the US, long before the NFL, NBA, and MLB made a U-turn on their position after the Supreme Court ruled the federal sports betting ban unconstitutional.
The UFC has worked with DraftKings on a minor scale in the past but held off on announcing an official sportsbook partner until recently. In February 2015, the UFC and DraftKings announced a partnership, giving the DFS giant a presence at UFC events, UFC.com, and social media channels.
But the current deal announced last week is on an entirely different scale. ESPN quoted a source who gave it a price tag of $350 million or “low nine figures.”
As per UFC President Dana White in the official press release:
“This is a massive deal that will benefit UFC, DraftKings, and most of all the fans. DraftKings is the best at what they do in the betting and daily fantasy space, and unlike other sports, UFC has no off-season. The action will be non-stop. This is the most important deal we’ve ever done to increase engagement with our fans and reach new ones, and I’m looking forward to all the exciting things we’re going to do with DraftKings over the next few years.”
The Growing Popularity of MMA Betting
DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins said that combat sports, and UFC in particular, has scaled significantly across the company’s sportsbook and DFS verticals. According to Robins, it is “evolving from a niche offering to a high-demand category that we believe will only grow further as we innovate.”
Last year, DraftKings set new company records with both UFC betting and daily fantasy growth. DraftKings held two MMA Millionaire competitions last year, with similar events planned this year.
The COO of UFC, Lawrence Epstein, pointed out that “one of the things we see is more robust data-generation from UFC events that can be used in gaming.” He said the UFC believes there will be more in-game, real-time data that will enhance the gaming experience on UFC events within a relatively short period.
Combat sports account for a non-trivial amount of sports wagers. In Colorado, one of the few locales that breaks out sports betting revenue by sport, MMA was the eighth-most bet sport in January. MMA was just behind College Football and ahead of tennis and golf.
DraftKings Becomes Official Partner of UFC Fight Clock
Part of the new deal will make DraftKings the presenting partner of the UFC Fight Clock, which uses state-of-the-art technology, including flexible HD screens, to provide fighters and fans with one of the most accurate time-keeping systems in combat sports.
The Fight Clock is integrated into the UFC production technology, allowing fans, athletes, and officials to see the same countdown clock per round as viewers watching the broadcast.
The Fight Clock made its debut at UFC 259 in Vegas in the fight between Blachowicz and Adesanya.