Sponsorships have been a topic of discussion in mixed martial arts for years. As the sport grows, so do the opportunities to make money; and with the boom of cryptocurrency, another option has been introduced to MMA in 2018.
Prior to Rory MacDonald winning the Bellator MMA welterweight title at Bellator 192, it was made known that he had acquired a cryptocurrency sponsorship in the form of Dash. The digital cash currency was one of many that garnered attention when the price of Bitcoin hit $10,000 towards the end of last year.
“This will hopefully be the first of many sponsorships with Dash, and hopefully what I see is Dash coming to the MMA community and hopefully Bellator jumps in on it and a lot of other fighters can reap the rewards,” MacDonald said during a pre-fight media call in January. “That’s my main goal -- that it’s not only going to be just for me but for other fighters and even Bellator.”
According to a MMANYTT.com report soon after, MacDonald’s trainer, Firas Zahabi, suggested that Dash become the premiere sponsor for the Tristar Gym; and Chael Sonnen this week announced on Twitter that he, too, would be partnering with Dash.
Other Bellator fighters are looking to add earning opportunities beyond Dash, as well. Cryptocurrency exchanges like Coin Lion want to jump into MMA. Former lightweight champion Michael Chandler told MMAWeekly that he had partnered with the exchange. There are plenty of exchanges out there, with Coin Lion being the most popular for beginners. However, with all of the buzz surrounding cryptocurrency, there is a downside: market volatility. Chandler seems to think cryptocurrency exchanges complement the way the sport of mixed martial arts operates.
“It’s cool to see companies like Coin Lion investing in mixed martial arts,” he said. “MMA is very similar to cryptocurrency. It’s in its infancy; there’s a huge amount of upside; there’s risk and reward; and there’s a ton of buzz behind it. It’s really a cool parallel between mixed martial arts and the cryptocurrency industry.”
To further touch on Chandler’s comparison between cryptocurrency and MMA, the risks and rewards associated with combat sports are unpredictable. The sacrifices fighters make in order to compete take a toll on their health and cost them time with their family, all to get paid in a profession where there are no guarantees.
MacDonald, Chandler and Sonnen are all on the Bellator roster, and while the promotion has not formally addressed cryptocurrency, the fact that its fighters have the option to explore creating more revenue streams underlines the freedom they have while not being restricted by the promotion for which they fight.
Edward Carbajal serves as the lead MMA analyst for Frontproof Media and holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Ishin Ryu Karate. He has covered combat sports since 2014 and has been a fan of MMA since UFC 1. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel or at his website TheBlogBoardJungle.com.