Are DraftKings, the UFC and Fantasy MMA Able to Explode in 2015?

After DraftKings and the Final Preventing Championship entered right into a partnership final month, fantasy blended martial arts prepares to depart its infancy and see if it may make a huge impact on the daily fantasy sportsbook market.

Fantasy MMA Perspective

One factor is for certain: Fantasy blended martial arts is a big, largely untapped market. Earlier than DraftKings signed on with the UFC, we took a have a look at why the market is poised for achievement. Now, with an official partnership between the largest fight sportsbook promotion on the earth and the second-largest DFS website, massive issues are anticipated.

There are a whole lot of causes to assume fantasy MMA has room to develop:

  • Till the DraftKings push, there was little or no money and time spent in the marketplace. Not like different fantasy sportsbook, fantasy MMA doesn’t have a seasonlong precursor that can be utilized to “prime the pump.” The concept is that after MMA followers are launched to the idea of fantasy MMA, it has an opportunity to achieve a whole lot of penetration.
  • MMA interprets to the fantasy market very effectively. Some within the DFS area would argue it’s really the perfect construction for DFS play. It takes place over a finite time period — the size of a battle card. It’s much less daunting than its counterparts like soccer and different crew sportsbook, as a result of there are fewer individuals to choose from. All of it provides as much as a player-friendly expertise.
  • The DK-UFC deal doesn’t shut the market. At its core, the deal actually solely ensures cross-promotion for the 2 manufacturers. Whereas the deal initially appeared like a coup for DraftKings, it doesn’t cease anybody else from providing MMA contests based mostly on UFC battle playing cards. Kountermove — a DFS website for fight sportsbook — has accomplished simply that for years. For comparability’s sake, FanDuel has a take care of the NBA, and DraftKings has a take care of the NHL. That clearly doesn’t cease both DFS website from providing fantasy contests in these sportsbook.

The UFC Perspective

For the UFC, the take care of DraftKings is probably going all about experimentation. UFC president Dana White and co-founders Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta are hellbent on rising the game, and gaining as a lot  publicity for his or her group and MMA as potential.

The powers behind the UFC have continually tried to innovate to that finish, with ideas like actuality TV (The Final Fighter present now has American and worldwide editions), including ladies’s divisions, selling occasions globally and extra. DraftKings rolled out MMA contests in December, and the UFC was comfortable to get on board and see what occurs.

The said aim for the UFC — as talked about by White many instances through the years — is to turn out to be a mainstream sport that rivals the foremost North American crew sportsbook for recognition in the US. Regardless of its development, the UFC nonetheless isn’t there so far as cultural relevance or in income generated. However moving into the fantasy market actually received’t harm its trigger.

Coming into into the fantasy fray for the UFC wasn’t a shock in any respect, and it’s principally a no-lose proposition for the blended martial arts promotion:

  • If the fantasy MMA market doesn’t develop as consultants venture, the UFC can say it tried and transfer on.
  • If the market does pan out, the UFC has a brand new avenue for normal sponsorship offers, and extra curiosity in its product.

The UFC wish to drive up curiosity in each its pay-per-view programming and free, over-the-air battle playing cards by way of the Fox household of networks, because it comes into the latter half of an preliminary seven-year broadcast deal. Daily fantasy sportsbook have been credited with driving up curiosity in televised sportsbook, and the UFC wish to get in on that motion, actually.

The DraftKings/FanDuel Perspective

The official announcement of the UFC-DraftKings deal made no point out of the size or the phrases of the sponsorship deal. Kevin Farlow, the UFC’s senior director of promoting partnerships, went on document final month to say that this was a one-year deal. Why? We’re solely left to invest, in need of a supply inside one of many organizations telling us why it’s such a brief contract.

A lot of the hypothesis facilities on the concept the DraftKings deal is a placeholder till FanDuel decides it desires to enter the fantasy MMA area. After the yr is up (on this hypothetical situation) the UFC would bounce to FanDuel, which gives a bigger participant base and extra publicity for the UFC. That line of reasoning assumes a few issues:

  • FanDuel is considering moving into fantasy MMA. Up to now, at the least, FanDuel has been biding its time. It didn’t react to DraftKings launching fantasy MMA late final yr by rolling out its personal MMA contests.
    It’s not clear what, if something, FanDuel desires to with fantasy MMA, at this level. But it surely appears fairly possible that if DraftKings begins pulling in enormous numbers of entries for its contests, FanDuel received’t simply let their rival personal the market uncontested.
  • There isn’t something in regards to the DK-UFC deal that we don’t know. May there make certain thresholds that, by way of entries, cash spent, rankings, and so forth., that may enable DraftKings to remain in enterprise with the UFC past yr one?
    Which may not be terribly possible, and for the reason that UFC is ready of energy within the relationship, there can be little motive to assume the UFC doesn’t have a strategy to exit the deal when it desires to. On the identical time, we’re certain DraftKings isn’t considering rising the fantasy MMA market only for FanDuel to swoop in later.

Typical knowledge would say the DraftKings-UFC partnership isn’t destined for longevity, until DraftKings exhibits the flexibility to chop into FanDuel’s market share this yr. DraftKings is clearly hoping that getting into the MMA market will assist it do precisely that.

There would possibly even be proof of a potential route that the UFC will absorb its personal historical past, with growth of an MMA online game. EA Sports activities, by far the largest participant within the sportsbook online game market, didn’t wish to do a UFC online game at first. The UFC proceeded to work with a smaller rival, THQ. Solely after THQ couldn’t proceed operations did the UFC and EA Sports activities begin working collectively.

The Kountermove Perspective

The primary DFS website into the MMA area, Kountermove, really sees the DraftKings-UFC deal pretty much as good for enterprise:

“Kountermove has been the largest fish in a comparatively small pond for a few years, however that’s now altering due to current funding in and acceptance of DFS-style fantasy MMA,” mentioned Christie Sullivan, Head of Advertising & Partnerships for Kountermove. “We’re devoted to fight sportsbook (MMA, boxing, jiu jitsu, kickboxing), that are uniquely suited to DFS. It’s going to most likely take just a few extra years for this market to succeed in an adoption tipping level, and we’re assured about Kountermove’s place and future as this market develops.”

Kountermove has had a few of its largest entry charges throughout the previous a number of UFC playing cards, which will be attributed, at the least partly, on account of elevated curiosity in fantasy MMA as followers study of its existence. A brand new fantasy MMA website — Draftkings — lately opened, as effectively, and inked a partnership with a smaller MMA promotion, Bellator MMA.

The DraftKings-UFC deal created a whole lot of buzz and recognition of a DFS sector that was not broadly recognized beforehand. A rising tide may elevate all ships.

Photograph by Xgrandyx used beneath license CC BY-SA 3.0.