Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has been consistently evolving to create a wider sphere of influence. Similarly, blockchain technology promises to revolutionize the internet and be the next big thing in the world of technology. Together, these two fields have been building off of one another to grow their influence, like through the partnership between NFT marketplace Uniquehash and MMA management agency Dodge Sports.
MMA is one of the oldest sports in existence, and is rumored to have been played as early as the Olympics in 648 BC. However, it has only recently begun to increase in popularity around the world, and was catalyzed by the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, in 1993. The UFC UFC’s inception and subsequent coordination with state athletic commissions helped to regulate the sport and turn it into a mainstream commodity.
The sport has grown rapidly since its inception, and every UFC pay-per-view event now receives millions of viewers from around the world. When the UFC was first sold in 2001, it went for $2 million. Now, only 20 years later, it is worth an estimated $10 billion, making it one of the most valuable sports promotions in the world. Other promotions, such as ONE Championship and Bellator, are also worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. In fact, Bellator is owned by ViacomCBS, one of the largest media companies in the world. A lot of MMA’s growth can be attributed to its constant adaptation and evolution in order to cater to fans, such as a large and highly engaging social media presence, lucrative sponsorship deals, and the celebrity status of top fighters like Connor McGregor.
With its adaptable and ever-expanding nature, it was inevitable that the MMA world would mix with blockchain technology, which has also been expanding rapidly over the last decade and quickly becoming a household name. MMA and blockchain are beginning to become intertwined, as they are both fast-growing and exciting fields that are only beginning to be understood by the general public.
In early July 2021, the link between blockchain and MMA became even closer, as the UFC and Crypto.com announced a record-breaking $175 million sponsorship deal. For the next 10 years, cryptocurrency exchange and wallet provider Crypto.com will have their logo on the walls and floors of the Octagon, which is where the fighters battle, and the shirts and shorts of the fighters. This deal will help bring mainstream awareness to Crypto.com, and help cryptocurrencies grow alongside the UFC and MMA.Crypto.com is the first and only non-outfitting entity to have their logo on the standard UFC fight kit (uniform). Only Reebok and Venum (the UFC’s only two outfitters) have had that spot so far.
Uniquehash (https://uniquehash.com), the new NFT marketplace aimed at bringing everyday people into the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, recently announced a partnership with Dodge Sports, a top UFC and MMA athlete-representation agency based out of Miami. All 16 of Dodge Sports’ clients, along with a special logo NFT, were minted on the Uniquehash platform and are now on sale. Each comes with a special reward, such as a swag box or a shoutout from a fighter, that is only revealed after purchasing the NFT. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent fighters under Dodge Sports and the designs for their NFTs.
Andre ‘Daii’ Ewell is a fighter in the UFC from California. He fights in the bantamweight division, which groups fighters in the 126–135lb weight class, and is 5 feet 11 inches tall. His professional win-loss record is 17–8, and he has won championship titles outside the UFC. His positivity, lightheartedness, and social media antics make him a fan favorite, which is why many believe his NFT will not be on sale for long.
Jesse Taylor is another popular fighter now immortalized as an NFT in the Dodge Sports + Uniquehash Collection. He is a former winner of Ultimate Fighter, a popular reality TV show where elite MMA fighters compete against one another for the grand prize, a six-figure contract to fight in the UFC. He has 31 wins and 16 losses in his professional career, and has fought in multiple different weight classes. He has fought in multiple different promotions, including the Maximum Fighting Championship, World Series of Fighting, and Cage Warriors Fighting Championship — the promotion Conor McGregor fought in before joining the UFC roster. In his long career, he has been the Cage Warriors middleweight champion, Total Combat middleweight champion, and the King of Champions middleweight champion. He is an exciting and engaging fighter to watch, and has an impressive social media following of over 60,000 followers on Instagram.
Aaron Jeffery is an exciting young prospect in the MMA scene. At 28 years old, 6 feet 2 inches, and 185 pounds, he fights in the middleweight weight class. On September 28, Jeffery, who is currently 10–2 and holds the Cage Fury FC middleweight title, will be fighting Caio Borralho in Dana White’s Contender Series. This is one of the most exciting events in MMA, because Dana White, who is the president of the UFC, uses this event as a way to scout potential talent for the UFC. If Jeffery has a great performance in this event, and is chosen by White to be the next fighter in the world’s biggest MMA promotion, his NFT might be seen as more valuable to collectors.
These three fighters, along with the 13 others managed by Dodge Sports, represent some of the top talent in the MMA scene. Their immortalization as NFTs is a keystone event in both the blockchain and MMA world, as it marks the beginning of the digitalization of fighters and the link between the MMA and blockchain.
By Lincoln Murr