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UFC’s Dana White sees NFTs as ‘massive’ revenue, fan engagement opportunity

The Ultimate Fighting Championship punched its way into the NFT realm earlier this year, with the Las Vegas-based fighting league having high hopes for its potential.

In January, UFC linked up with Dapper Labs, creator of the NBA Top Shot and NFL All Day NFT products, to launch its UFC Strike video NFT brand. An NFT is a non-fungible token, or a digital asset stored on a blockchain that can be bought, sold or traded online.

The product offers fans the opportunity to purchase packs of virtual moments, sold in varying rarities, through an online marketplace. Fans also may set prices of the moments they collect and sell theirs or purchase others in the peer-to-peer marketplace.

If early sales of the NFTs are any indicator, UFC President Dana White expects the jump into the collectibles realm to be a successful one.

“It’s been unbelievable,” White said Monday during a virtual chat in association with the MINT Collective event taking place at the MGM Grand next week. “Everything that we’ve put on sale has sold out in minutes. It’s not just the NFT business. Whether it’s signed posters, the guys’ fight kits, worn or unworn, NFTs … actual trading cards like when we grew up — all of that stuff is on fire right now.”

The revenue scale could be huge for the UFC if the initial momentum keeps surging ahead. Joe Pompliano, moderator of the session, mentioned that billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, said NFTs could end up being a top five line item revenue-wise for the league.

“If it keeps heading in the direction it’s heading in now, it’s going to be massive,” White said.

The endeavor is not only a big earning possibility for the UFC brass, but for the fighters as well. UFC fighters get 50 percent of the revenue generated from the NFT sales.

The adaptability of the NFT technology is also a key element to the product’s success. New NFTs can be created and put into the marketplace with a quick turnaround, as opposed to traditional trading cards that can take months to produce.

“We’re even at a point now where Dapper Labs is creating a variety of content during fight week,” White said. “The open workouts, the press conferences, the weigh-ins and things like that.”

White noted that the pandemic and the impact it had on fans of all sports made him realize how important they are to society as whole. The explosion of sports-related NFTs plays into that, showcasing the fact that fans want a piece of the action.

“Sports is such an important part of our lives, and it’s much bigger than we ever realized, until recently,” White said. “One of the cool things about the NFTs and all these cool things that they’re doing … you can own a piece of your favorite sport’s history. I think it connects the fans with something that they love even more.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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