3 UFC Sponsorships Which You Didn’t Know About

When it comes to sponsorships in the world of fighting, from boxing to MMA, there seems to be a never-ending reel of partnerships. For fans, these deals range in terms of interest and engagement. In other words, not all sponsorships bear fruit for either company involved—but landing a great connection can see tons of publicity for everyone. 

So, how do organizations like the UFC decide which companies will be a good fit for them and, more importantly, their primary audience? The goal is to focus on products and services that are adjacent to MMA but maybe not directly related, like equipment. The most successful partnerships usually straddle the line of entertainment. 

Audiences who sit down to watch a boxing match or a UFC fight want to be entertained—hence the popularity of crossover fights. They want a close fight that displays a range of skills. They want the unexpected to happen. They want to learn something new about the sport. And when they see a program’s sponsors through commercials or other forms of advertising, they want everything to feel in line with the Big Show. 

Let’s backtrack to 2018 when UFC partnered with PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker provider, and cover why it was a hit for both companies. Then we’ll move on to two more sponsors: Harley Davidson & TikTok. 

UFC 232 

PokerStars became the UFC’s first-ever ‘Official Poker Partner’. After years of activity in and around Las Vegas, UFC waited to pen a deal with a poker group. The decision was made to pair with PokerStars, the leading poker company which offers a robust online poker platform where fans can get involved with weekly tournaments, sit and gos, home games and more.  

This deal covered UFC 232: Jones vs. Gustafsson 2, which was fought at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas on December 18, 2018. 

So, what made this partnership a hit? After all, poker and MMA don’t seem to have a lot in common on the surface. However, in many circles, poker is considered a mental sport, which requires players to display fortitude, quick decision-making, and analytical thinking for hours on end.  

And while wriggling out of a triangle choke is different from bluffing your way to the top with a bad hand, UFC and PokerStars have a ton of crossover fans. MMA fighting puts the body to the limit, while poker offers the mind a similarly rewarding challenge. 

Harley Davidson 

Unlike the TikTok sponsorship (see below), it’s easy to see why UFC fits with motorcycle giant Harley Davidson, a partner since 2007. Viewers who enjoy MMA fighting also have a penchant for rough riding—which is a little funny considering UFC fighters are contractually dissuaded from riding motorcycles. While many top fighters still have Harleys and are proud to show them off, most save their riding days for after they’ve retired from the octagon. Still, for fans, it’s a great partnership that bridges some of their favorite interests. 

UFC works with Harley Davidson locations around the US to host viewing parties for its fights, along with creating other unique fan experiences. Harley shops serve as hubs for UFC events, allowing fans to connect over their love of motorcycles and MMA and share this love on social media. 


A well-placed sponsorship can help signal to viewers that a company understands its audience. One of UFC’s current sponsors, TikTok, active since 2021, might not pan out in the long run due to its dissonance with viewers—or will it? TikTok is one of the most unique and interesting sponsors that UFC has seen in the last decade. And in mid-March, UFC extended its contract with the short-form video app. 

So, what’s behind this partnership? It’s all about the live stream. UFC’s partnership with TikTok grants the app exclusive rights for live-streaming certain events. And it’s good business sense considering UFC is the third-most followed sport on TikTok with over six million followers. Along with live-streaming rights, UFC also works with TikTok to offer behind-the-scenes footage and post-fight scenes. Though an unlikely partnership, it’s easy to see why this one works out upon taking a closer look. 

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com