Let ‘s see what happens to the sport. This year there was “The Fight of the Century”, the meeting most watched ever in the history of boxing, which saw rotate around Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, thanks to the TV show and various other types of income, a booty which is around $ 500 million.
Today, however, the box is seeing to crack its primacy as combat sports, because there is a brand that wants to get closer to earnings and to the status quo of the famous sporting art of the square ring.
This sport is the MMA (Mixed Martial Art), the brand best known as promoter is the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and the ring is an octagonal cage.
This morning, while I was reading the website of the New York Times I noted that there is still in the front page the news of the sport event that were not expected: Rounda Rousey has lost the encounter with the colleague Holly Holm, that therefore currently holds the title of the bantamweight before belonging to Rousey, who came from twelve consecutive matches won and it was, or maybe still is, considered the strongest woman fighter of mixed martial arts, many times medaled as Olympic champion in judo for the United States of America.
The event is over all the newspapers in the world, twetted and retwetted thousands of times, commented and re-commented by everyone with even great expectations for interviews after defeat to Rousey to do that for the first time in his career loses a match.
And this is the mass media Rousey issue, but there is also another one in act, that regards the big match scheduled for December 12, valid for the title of the Featherweight, between two of the best known fighters and media personalities of MMA, the Brazilian Jose Aldo against the Irishman Conor “The Notorious” McGregor.
Well, we now look for a moment at the situation from a distance. On the first page of the New York Times we are talking about an encounter between two women who are taken each other with punch and kick closed inside a octagonal cage?
What happens? Incidentally one of these two women, the most popular, the Rousey, is also already appeared in two Hollywood blockbusters, namely the Mercenaries 3 and Fast and Furious 7, as well as in several television appearances.
But then what happened? It happened that the Zuffa, a US company limited liability, founded by Italian-American brothers Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III, that has worked to elevate the brand as symbol of a sport, that of MMA, that if it was previously seen only as pure violence, today is a symbol of physical and mental exercise done by athletes highly specialized and able to make one of the most exciting sports events that you can see. The brand in question is precisely that of the UFC, bought by the brothers Fertitta and promoted by Zuffa of which they are majority shareholders.
The UFC is a brand born in 1993, mainly to sell the show in pay-per-view. The idea was to merge into a single circuit of matches the strongest fighters of martial arts and combat sports Olympic as: karate, jiu-jitsu, boxing, kick-boxing, judo, muay-thai, and other disciplines to determine who was the strongest fighter and which one the best fighting style.
Success in a particular target market was very high, but the society didn’t see well these fights in the cage, too bloody and seemingly without rules.
In fact, the first UFC approach was based on the Brazilian Valetudo (which translates into anything goes) and this paucity of rules did lose the contracts with the Pay-per-view.
From here is re-born the brand.
The UFC began a great job of branding, by adopting stricter rules and it binds itself to recognized athletic committees, becoming the socially accepted promoter of mixed martial arts.
Thanks to the acquisition by the Fertitta in 2001 and the careful management by a very experienced manager team in the entertainment industry, the UFC brand has become a global brand and has led the MMA, from to be a sport dirty, rough, almost ghetto, to being a major league sports, the athletes that do MMA are became true international stars, wanted by sponsors, protagonists of advertising campaigns and video-game as the UFC for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox.
Thanks to the expert management team the UFC now has a market value, given from having joined the Regulation unified MMA created by the commission of the State of Nevada, and has been awarded “Promotion of the Year” at the Fighter Only World MMA Award six consecutive years from 20008 to 2013 and as Women’s Mixed Martial Arts Award in 2013 and 2014.
Operations to revive the brand are started passing from the only pay-per-view at the air television creating a series called The Ultimate Fighter that was a huge success and helped to increase even purchases of pay-per-view subscriptions.
Since then the history of the UFC’s pay-per-view subscriptions have increased continuously and the champions were raised to glories by magazines such as Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine.
Thanks to this success came the major turning point in 2011 when the UFC signed the contract with long-term validity with FOX, for media rights and the development of four live events in prime time or late at night. Since 2012 the number of programs with FOX is increased, adding fighting live and pre and post-show programs.
From the point of view of branding, however, two major actions had already been made before, fundamental to score hits such as contracts with FOX and were the acquisition of the UFC of its main competitors, of which the most important was that of ‘acquisition of the Japanese PRIDE of hte Pride Fighting Championship by Frank and Lorenzo Feritta. This was the moment when Lorenzo Feritta said: We are literally creating a sport that could become large in the world as the football. I would like to create something similar to when the NFC and AFC came together to create the NFL.
In all these years the business operations and brand have been many, but into the few words of Lorenzo Feritta reads the intention to create a business model, but not limited to, a sustainable system, where the value of sport supports the brand and conversely, a value that allows today at one of its athlete to be on the front page of The New York Times, just because she lost a match.