UFC Moves On From Anheuser-Busch; Modelo Especial to Become UFC's Official Beer in 2018

By Jordan Breen Oct 9, 2017

This Bud isn’t for the Ultimate Fighting Championship any more.

The UFC has reached a multiyear deal with Modelo Especial which will make the Mexican import the Octagon’s official beer and malt beverage starting in 2018. The partnership was announced on Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Modelo is an amazing brand that shares UFC's unmatched commitment to its fan base,” UFC President Dana White told The Associated Press. “I love Modelo and we're already talking about doing a lot of exciting things together.”

The fight promotion signed a sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. nearly a decade ago. In February 2008, the two companies announced their partnership, making Bud Light the official beer of both the UFC and then-active World Extreme Cagefighting brands. After the initial three-year contract, the UFC and Anheuser-Busch extended their deal in April 2011.

“When Bud signed on to be our sponsor, it sent a significant message that UFC was a real player in the sports landscape,” said UFC Chief Operating Officer Ike Lawrence Epstein said. “It gave us a tremendous amount of credibility with other sponsors. And not just sponsors. Television networks and venues and, frankly, anybody involved in the business of sports entertainment around the world.”

The deal will see Modelo branding and signage stamped in and around the Octagon at UFC events but is not an exclusive deal, allowing the UFC to pursue similar beverage sponsorships with other companies in international markets.

"Our Bud deal was a global deal so it prevented us from doing activation and creating sponsorship relationships with local beer companies in really important markets around the world,” added Epstein.

Modelo is the second most popular import beer in the United States behind Corona; both brands are managed and imported in the U.S. by Constellation Brands, Inc. In recent years, Constellation has sought to leverage Modelo in several sponsorships with sports franchises, inking deals with the Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Rams and Anaheim Angels.

This past March, Constellation signed a three-year deal, seven-fight deal with the Chicago White Sox, becoming the baseball club’s first official import beer.

“They want to get more into multicultural consumers,” said Modelo’s Chief Marketing Officer Jim Sabia. “We all benefit. They’re going to help take our brand into the general market consumer household.”


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