HomeAustralia and New ZealandUFC and NRL announce partnership ahead of historic Las Vegas double-header

UFC and NRL announce partnership ahead of historic Las Vegas double-header

UFC and NRL announce partnership ahead of historic Las Vegas double-header

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has partnered with the National Rugby League, complementing the NRL’s inaugural venture in Las Vegas next year.

Four of the NRL’s flagship clubs – South Sydney Rabbitohs, Brisbane Broncos, Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters – will kick off the 2024 NRL premiership season with a historic double-header fixture at Allegiant Stadium on March 2.

This milestone event, the first NRL fixtures played on US soil, was celebrated in Las Vegas in the presence of UFC Senior Executive Vice President Lawrence Epstein, Executive Vice President Dave Shaw and Hall of Fame MMA legend Forrest Griffin.

The partnership aims to leverage UFC’s strong ties with the NRL to engage a new audience in the Asia Pacific region, where MMA is experiencing significant growth. Simultaneously, the NRL seeks to tap into UFC’s influence in the US market, expanding its global footprint.

The historic deal will also provide NRL teams access to UFC state-of-the-art training facilities in Las Vegas ahead of their matches.

Lawrence Epstein, UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, emphasized the significance of Las Vegas as a burgeoning sports capital.

“Las Vegas is on the fast track to becoming the sports capital of the world,” Epstein said.

“All the major US sports leagues will have a presence here soon and, of course, Las Vegas will host its first Super Bowl here at Allegiant Stadium in February.

“International sports leagues are also recognising the value Las Vegas can bring to their brand. Just a few weeks ago we had the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which was a great success and set the stage for additional F1 events in the years to come.”

“NRL fans are going to love coming to Vegas to watch these matches. We’ve been to all the great cities, and there’s nothing like the infrastructure we have here in Las Vegas – from hotel rooms to restaurants and night clubs, and all of the other entertainment and sports we have here.

“Fans are the most important component of the sports ecosystem, and when the fans have a great time, they talk about your brand more, they talk about the experience more, and that positivity just builds up.”

UFC Vice President, Head of International & Content Dave Shaw underscored the close ties between the two organisations, expressing excitement about the partnership’s potential for mutual growth.

“There is a great link between our two sports, and I am excited about this partnership and the opportunities we have to grow together,” Shaw enthused.

“We know the NRL is one of the biggest sporting competitions Down Under and they have aspirations to grow their sport here in the US. We also know Australians are some of the biggest MMA fans on the planet – it is home to over 4 million of our 700 million global fanbase – and we are always looking at ways to continue to grow that fanbase in the APAC region.”

Shaw concluded by highlighting the interconnection between the two sports:

“Since 2010, UFC has accomplished major milestones across Australia and New Zealand, delivering 20 events across most major cities, many of them record-breaking.

“We have seen UFC athletes like Alex Volkanovski and Tai ‘Bam Bam’ Tuivasa start their careers in rugby league before transitioning to MMA… and we’ve also seen plenty of NRL stars enjoying the action at our UFC events across the globe. There is a connection between the sports that transcends beyond the Octagon and that is what excites us about this partnership.”

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo, also on the Las Vegas promotional junket along with the Rabbitohs’ Campbell Graham, the Broncos’ Billy Walters, the Sea Eagles’ Aaron Woods and the Roosters’ Spencer Leniu, along with a gaggle of Australian media, added the following:

“This is a groundbreaking partnership that will provide opportunities for UFC fans to get an understanding and insight on what our great game is all about.

“UFC has a global fan base of 700million and remains one of the fastest growing sports in the world. They have invested in their athletes, in their events and in their fans. I am excited about the possibilities this strategic partnership provides for us to grow our audiences both in the US and Australia”.

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