DraftKings, UFC Pull No Punches In Newest Cross-Promotional Partnership

Written By Derek Helling on March 5, 2021 - Last Updated on December 12, 2023

Like the athletes who put their bodies on the line in every bout, MMA promoters and gambling companies are in a constant grind to stay ahead of the competition. Two of those corporations recently took some action in that interest with a DraftKings-UFC partnership.

The deal gives DraftKings Sportsbook a lot more exposure during UFC events and within its properties. In exchange, DraftKings will increase the amount of promotion it gives UFC events on its platforms. The hope for both parties is that working together makes them champions.

The details of the DraftKings UFC partnership

Just ahead of UFC 259, DraftKings closed the deal to become an official daily fantasy sports contest and sportsbook partner of UFC for Canada and the United States. It’s the first time UFC has given out such a distinction. Nothing in a press release suggests it’s exclusive for UFC, though.

For DraftKings, that means offering new UFC-related contests and markets. That will include weekly free-to-play pools and a greater variety of prop bets. On UFC’s end, fans should expect to see a lot more of the DraftKings logo in a number of places.

The most prevalent location, quite intentionally, will be a new DraftKings-branded fight clock. The timing system, which UFC touts as proprietary, utilizes multiple flexible high-definition screens. UFC will put four of the screens around the Octagon to give fighters a view of the clock from any position within. Fans can get a first glimpse this Saturday during UFC 259.

If you consume any of UFC’s content, you might also come across some new DraftKings mentions there. That will include Dana White’s Contender Series and UFC Fight Pass videos. While there’s probably nothing in the contract to stop either party from doing something similar with competitors, the entire idea behind this deal is that both parties are leaders in their respective industries.


Warding off challengers

DraftKings hasn’t been shy about promoting UFC events on its DFS and sportsbook channels in the past. The “Bet $1, Win $100” promotion for first-time depositors it’s offering for UFC 259 this weekend isn’t a new promotion.

DraftKings only regularly books one other MMA fixture other than UFC, that being Bellator. Other circuits like Copa America have yet to establish themselves on a similar level. Thus, in the eyes of bettors, UFC will probably maintain its position as the premier MMA fixture.

By the same token, the amount of exposure that UFC fans will get to DraftKings has some significance. Until another gambling company makes a similar deal with UFC, DraftKings will have a right to expect to dominate handle in the category.

It’s uncertain how fans will react to the inundation of DraftKings ads that UFC programming will now feature and whether the increased activity on the DFS circuit/sportsbook will significantly increase interest in MMA play. This deal sets both companies up to reap the benefits if that becomes the case.

Photo by AP/John Raoux
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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