PokerStars Becomes First "Official Poker Partner" of UFC PokerStars Becomes First "Official Poker Partner" of UFC

PokerStars has joined forces with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to become its first-ever “Official Poker Partner”, in a new sponsorship category.

UFC is the world’s leading Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) organization headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Founded in 1993, the professional MMA fighting league has become immensely popular in the US and is slowly gaining its popularity in the UK too.

It is the world’s largest pay-per-view event provider and broadcasts in more than 160 countries and reaches more than 1.1 billion TV households in 40 different languages, it was stated in the press release. Surely, the new deal is expected to provide a major boost to both companies’ brand image.

Through this deal, PokerStars also strengthens its presence in the US market. The Stars Group currently operates in New Jersey and is expected to soon launch its services in Pennsylvania in 2019.

At the end of last year, TSG signed another major deal with a US-based sports league, joining forces with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to become an “authorized gaming operator”.

The new partnership with UFC kicked off with the UFC 232 pay-per-view match on December 29 in Las Vegas, allowing PokerStars to sponsor its brand inside the Octagon ring at the stadium held at the T-Mobile Arena, partially owned by MGM Resorts International, one of TSG’s biggest rivals in the US. The sponsorship agreement also allowed PokerStars to advertise its brand via social media and other digital media channels as well as during UFC’s telecasts.

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“We’re excited that PokerStars has joined our roster of global partners and has helped us create a new sponsorship category for our final event of 2018,” said Paul Asencio, UFC Senior Vice President, Global Partnerships.

“This agreement lays the foundation to work together with PokerStars in the future to grow our respective customer bases in key markets,” Asencio continued.

History of UFC and Poker

The UFC and poker have a long history that dates back to almost a decade. Many MMA fighters have appeared at the poker tables including participating in the World Series of Poker and appearing on Poker After Dark. Legendary fighters such as Randy Couture, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin have competed in the WSOP.

In fact, Ultimate Poker (now-defunct) which was the first legal and regulated online poker site in the US, was owned by the UFC owners. The site was named the “exclusive online gaming partner” of the UFC in 2013. The UFC also had a relationship with Full Tilt Poker before Black Friday.

UFC and PokerStars have a lot in common,” said Christopher Coyne, Chief Marketing Officer of Stars Interactive, a division of The Stars Group.

“We want to thrill and entertain, both in our products and customer experience. UFC is the world’s leading MMA promoter with millions of fans and followers around the globe, while PokerStars is the heavyweight of online poker. It’s a classic combination,” Coyne added.

Ever since the US Supreme Court ruling paved the way for all 50 states to legalize sports betting in the US, there have been several partnerships between gaming operators and sports league in the US. MGM Resorts International struck a deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in September to become an official gaming partner. In the following months, MGM also partnered with the National Hockey League (NHL) as well as Major League Baseball (MLB).

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys became the first NFL team to enter a partnership with WinStar World Casino in September which was followed by more teams partnering with MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment as well as Harrah’s New Orleans casino.

And now the world’s leading global gaming brand, PokerStars, has teamed up with the UFC just 10 days after the company inked a deal with NBA in an effort to expand its brands worldwide.