Alexander Gustaffson’s beatdown of Jimi Manuwa during the just-concluded UFC Fight Night in London over the weekend at the O2 Arena may have been the subject of numerous water cooler conversations today, but the event had far more reaching ramifications than the Mauler’s position as the unquestioned number one challenger to Jon Jones’ light heavyweight title.
The fight was also the first of many high-profile events that will showcase the recently signed partnership between the UFC and online betting company, Unibet. The two-year partnership, which makes Unibet the official betting partner of the UFC, essentially began in the days leading up to UFC Fight Night London and will stretch through a series of six events that will be held throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Needless to say, the first official event of Unibet’s involvement with UFC couldn’t have come at a more exciting time as The Mauler showed without a shadow of a doubt that he is the only man Jones needs to be worried about.
UFC President Dana White touched on Gustaffson’s massive popularity in Europe as a watershed moment for the UFC as it attempts to break into a market teeming with MMA potential. “This fight reached 194 million households in Europe alone,” White said, “and this was a huge moment for us being on free TV in the UK for the first time”.
“Alex is huge in Europe and the US. He’s the biggest star in Europe right now and he’s on the way to being one of the biggest in the US too.”
Those sentiments are precisely why the UFC and Unibet decided on making UFC Fight Night London is first of many collaborations as part of its two-year partnership. Both companies are excited about the prospects of what lies ahead given the unbridled success of their first event together, something Unibet CFO Nils Anden touched on when the deal was announced in the days leading up to the fight, calling the partnership “a match made in heaven”.
It’s hard to argue with that assessment given how unlike a lot of sports organizations in America, the UFC has embraced and taken full advantage of the many potential partnerships being offered in the gaming and betting industry. And now that the world’s premier MMA organization wants to open more doors globally, it was only fitting to turn to one of the world’s fastest growing online betting firms to kick those damn doors together.
UFC Fight Night London was the first event where Unibet was credited as the UFC’s official betting partner and with the success of the whole card to go with the opportunities that its ahead, it’s putting some credence to Anden’s claim that the UFC-Unibet tag-team is just beginning to gain some steam.