UFC and crypto hit another embarrassing low
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Just two weeks ago, I wrote about how the Ultimate Fighting Championship spat on two of its champions and biggest stars, Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones. To the promotion’s credit, he sought to correct this injustice. With its recently announced Crypto.com sponsorship, the promotion not only spat on its entire roster, but fans as well. The UFC has truly outdone itself, hitting a shameful new low since the Reebok deal ended individual fighter sponsorships in 2016. Granted, it’s not as destructive, but it pokes fun at fighters and makes fun of fighters. pokes fun at them even more, while continuing that same attitude towards the fans. Are you rolling your eyes reading this thinking I’m hyperbolic? Let’s take a look at the details.
There has been a lot of celebration about the $ 175 million over 10 years the UFC will receive from Crypto.com. This was viewed as a positive, showing how much MMA as a whole has increased. However, what percentage of that goes to fighters? As Ariel Helwani recently revealed in an interview, the answer is zero.
That’s right, not a single red cent. Remember when fighters were banned from having individual sponsors, and Dana White fervently argued that they would end up earning more from those in the company? Even then, everyone realized that this was utter nonsense, a bunch of blatant lies. Hell, many Top 5 fighters including Gegard Mousasi, Ryan Bader and Rory MacDonald quickly defected from Bellator MMA because they could make a lot more money from their own sponsors. However, at the very least, Reebok paid the fighters something. It was a relatively paltry amount, with martial artists earning $ 2,500 per fight for their first five UFC appearances, $ 5,000 per fight for the next five, and even champions only receiving $ 40,000. In most cases, this was overwhelmingly less than they would otherwise, but at least there was a hypothetical argument that those who didn’t care about getting sponsors, or were exceptionally bad at doing so, would earn as much or more. No such argument is possible with Crypto.com. Despite their logo adorning the front of each fighter’s shirt, the men and women who put their body, health, and soul on the line inside the Octagon get absolutely nothing out of it. It’s not just the UFC taking an absurd and unfair percentage of earnings, like the current 80%. It takes every penny, 100%, of a source of income that fighters previously had, and are promoting, not Dana White. It is outright theft. That $ 175 million doesn’t go to the men and women who leave parts of themselves in the cage, but to the executives of Endeavor and White, among others. Maybe he’ll spend some of those millions on another mansion, another million dollar birthday party for one of his kids, another losing a million dollar boxing bet, or just the blackjack table? It is clear that a development deserves to be celebrated.
But it goes even further, even managing to insult the UFC’s own loyal fans. Remember one of the UFC accounts from 2016 claiming that many sponsors of individual fighters were lower class, embarrassing and unchecked? The classic example was Condom Depot. I have always found this confusing. Condoms have an important function, protecting against disease and unwanted pregnancy. It is a tangible and useful product that is obtained in exchange for money. Compare that to what the UFC peddles with Crypto.com. Now, for starters, crypto speculation, just like the stock market or sports betting that the UFC also advertises, is a form of gambling. You invest in a currency, a business, or a fighter and hope they succeed. and earn you money. If they don’t, you are wasting money.
However, there is a vital difference with crypto speculation. With Bitcoin’s huge runaway success, many new cryptocurrencies have sprung up overnight to meet investor demand. Most of them are either poorly designed scams or outright scams. Now, Crypto.com prides itself on offering over 100 cryptocurrencies. As a mathematical economist who has studied cryptocurrencies and spoken to many other scientists and researchers on the subject, I can tell you that there are not nearly 100 legitimate cryptocurrencies today and well designed around the world. In fact, I doubt there are even 20. Basically, that means over 80% of the currencies offered on the website are pure junk, with no chance of long term growth.
Compare this to the stock market. It would be like advertising a stock exchange where at least four out of five companies are shady fronts for a scam or else utterly incompetent, or a sportsbook where in at least four out of five matches offered, a player will lose regardless of. which side they are betting on.
When it comes to embarrassing, poorly controlled, lower class, I can’t think of a worse example than Crypto.com in the history of UFC sponsorship. Naturally, the record amount they paid helped allay moral qualms. We feel sorry for any UFC fan who decides to use the exchange, and is not among the very small percentage who can profit from it. Especially since many invest large sums in cryptocurrencies, much more than they invest in sports betting.
The new sponsorship of the UFC has led to an interesting situation. Fighters don’t earn extra money. Fans stand to lose money if they sign up. And UFC executives continue to rake in record profits while laughing.