In early 2022, the UFC announced the most important sponsorship deal in its history. At the time, the largest MMA organization in the world celebrated the signing of a 10-year deal with the cryptocurrency exchange “Crypto.com”.
The deal involved having Crypto.com’s logo printed on the fighter’s uniforms and UFC Octagon. On top of that, the roster’s most popular fighters were chosen to promote the exchange on social media and other venues. The MMA promotion stands to gain $175 million for the sponsorship.
As reported by Calfkicker, those numbers resulted in heavy criticism by the MMA community. The UFC was set to make 20 times more than the athletes would make by endorsing Crypto.com’s brand.
Another aspect of the deal involved Crypto.com handing a performance bonus to fighters competing in the UFC’s pay-per-view events. UFC fans would vote for the top-three performances of the night, and the winners would win up to $30,000 in bitcoin.
The “Fan bonus of the night” was first introduced for UFC 273. That night, the welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev won the bonus after beating Gilbert Burns in a close decision victory.
However, the bitcoin payment for fighters would only continue as agreed for a short period of time. In September, Crypto.com announced a “retooling” of the bonus, with the idea of relaunching it in the near future.
Fast forwarding three months and several pay-per-view events later, Crypto.com is yet to confirm a relaunching date, if it ever occurs.
Crypto.com Going Through Financial Difficulties?
The series of problematic events are starting to result in speculations about potential financial problems in the exchange. Especially after the utter collapse of the rival exchange, FTX.
Today’s crypto market is undoubtedly a lot different than it was around the time Crypto.com announced the UFC partnership.
In April 2022, the exchange’s native token “Cronos” traded at around $0,44. Since then, the entire cryptocurrency market experienced one of the longer-lasting bear markets in its existence.
The crypto winter was particularly bad for Cronos, today is worth only six cents of a dollar, losing over 86% of its value since the beginning of the year.
On top of that, the exchange announced a mass layoff of its workforce in June. According to reports from current and former employees, the exchange fired about 2000 workers during that period.
When the market was booming in 2021, Crypto.com was easily among the exchanges that invested the most in marketing campaigns.
On top of becoming the UFC’s highest-paying sponsor in history, the exchange also sponsored several venues, including buying the naming rights for Lakers Arena and also signing with top-tier celebrities like Matt Damon.