Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) closed a blockbuster deal with Anheuser-Busch earlier this week, bringing Bud Light — one of the promotion’s earliest blue-chip sponsors — back to the Octagon in early 2024.
Rest easy corporate stooges, Brock Lesnar is retired.
UFC ended its first run with Bud Light in early 2018, hooking up with Modelo “to get more into multicultural consumers.” Whether or not that goal was attained is unknown, but multiple fighters were able to benefit.
No question UFC CEO Dana White and the rest of the TKO shareholders are pleased with the recent sponsorship, but not everyone on social media is jumping for joy. Bud Light is not far removed from the Dylan Mulvaney controversy that led to a massive boycott, resulting in a significant decline in sales (and multiple layoffs).
White is focused on the future, not the past.
“Believe me, if you think I got into this thinking that wouldn’t happen, you’re out of your mind,” White told reporters during the PowerSlap 5 media scrum. “People are very opinionated about this, and it’s almost like the COVID thing. Through COVID, what did I say during COVID? Somebody’s gotta be first. There are reasons why I felt we could be first going through COVID, knew we would do it right, yada, yada, yada. You know the story. But when it comes to Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light, everybody talks about, ‘Oh, you did it for money.’ Hey, dummies, all sponsorship deals are about money. Okay? So, when you talk about being a sellout, I had multiple deals in front of me.”
White faced a tsunami of weak, wimpy criticism for his decision to stage combat sports events at the height of the pandemic. Though most of the stateside venues were shut down or completely inoperable, UFC was able to ship its traveling circus to Abu Dhabi for a series of cards on “Fight Island” — much to the chagrin of the mainstream media.
But opinions don’t pay bills (or count cash).
“So it’s not like Bud Light showed up and they were the only option I had to get money,” White continued. “You know how f*cking stupid that is? To think this was all about, and I said this yesterday and I’ll say it again, everybody on every side of this deal that were involved, other beer companies and everything else absolutely, positively know that this was not about money for me. We were going to end up with money no matter who we ended up with. For Anheuser-Busch, it was about values, core values for me. I’m at a point in my life, and I’m at a point in my career, where nothing is just about money anymore. I saw some other (expletive) a**hole today saying, ‘Oh it sounds like they wrote him a script on what to say.’ Nobody writes me a script. Nobody tells me what to say, ever.”
That may explain why he never apologized for this ugly incident.
“The things that I said about Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light yesterday are absolutely true,” White said. “I am a big military, law enforcement guy. They have this ‘Folds of Honor’ where they’ve spent $44 million over the last however many years, fallen first responders and military people, their families get taken care of with this money, scholarships for their kids, etc. That is right up my alley. Almost $1 billion a year goes to U.S. farmers for their crops, for their products. That is right up my alley. That is exactly who I am. Sixty-five thousand Americans are employed by Anheuser-Busch, and thousands of them are vets. Right up my alley. And I can keep going on and on forever and tell you why I’m more aligned with Anheuser-Busch than any of the other beer companies that were offering to pay us money.”
How much of that money will go to the actual fighters is unknown.
Article originally posted here.