Marcelo Alonso | Sherdog.com
In Brazil, we used to say that all MMA promoters are totally crazy. Profit is a word that almost never seems to cross the minds of Brazilian promoters. As a result, only fight gear and gi brands lend their names and money to sponsor MMA events. Apart from Wallid Ismail’s Jungle Fight -- which can capitalize on its brand to get the support of local politicians in the cities it visits -- most Brazilian events lose money or, at best, cover their expenses.
But, perhaps because of the sport’s growth in North America, this is starting to change. Brazil’s mainstream media is finally starting to care about MMA. For example, the other day, I saw Anderson Silva on three different network TV programs in Brazil on the same day. In the past, that’s something only Vitor Belfort could’ve achieved, due to his excellent image and persona in the Brazilian media. With this new level of attention, legitimate sponsors are more interested in the sport.
A landmark moment in this process of change will happen this Saturday night, when Otavio “Tata” Duarte promotes the third edition of Brazil Fight in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, with the sponsorship of Coca-Cola’s Gladiator energy drink.
“I truly believe it was a huge win for MMA. I had eight meetings with Coca-Cola to convince them, but finally I got it,” says Duarte. “I hope this is the first of many big companies to believe in MMA in Brazil.”
Released in 2008, Gladiator was initially geared toward the Mexican market, where it was popularized due to its connection to pro-wrestling, being advertised by lucha libre stars Mistico and Perro Aguayo, Jr.
“Gladiator is directed to the everyday ‘gladiators,’ the ones who work hard daily and need an extra dose of energy to face the daily routine of work and study. We believe this concept of strength and persistence [in MMA] related to the product,” says Gustavo Jardim, marketing manager of Coca-Cola in the state of Minas Gerais.
Brazil Fight 3 takes place at Chevrolet Hall on Saturday night, and features a five-fight series pitting fighters from Sao Paulo against local fighters from Minas Gerais, including lightweight prospect Thiago Michel Pereira, who has been called “The Anderson Silva of Belo Horizonte.”