Rear naked chokes, round kicks and double-leg takedowns are coming to the blockchain.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts league has entered into an exclusive partnership with Chiliz, a fintech company that helps major sports engage with their fans and monetize their base.
Chiliz runs an app called Socios, where fans can vote on fan surveys and polls, and get fan token rewards in return.
Both companies promise that UFC fan tokens will allow diehards the chance to unlock “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” through the deal—and enjoy a closer connection to the likes of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
UFC fan tokens
Fan tokens are at the heart of Socios’ platform, which can be used to earn coveted rewards like match tickets, fan experiences, and access to exclusive presales for ticketed events. While these fan tokens can be bought, sold, and traded, Chiliz also uses augmented reality (AR) to allow fans to hunt for tokens in the manner of Pokémon GO
Chiliz’s uses Ethereum-based ERC-20 tokens, ensuring ownership and authenticity are traceable. UFC rewards will also be available for the company’s basic cryptocurrency, CHZ tokens.
The blockchain-based brand has already secured partnerships with a myriad of top-flight European soccer teams, including FC Barcelona, Juventus, AS Roma, and Paris Saint-Germain.
According to Chiliz, the UFC could have the opportunity to entice some of these soccer fans into seeing what mixed martial arts has to offer.
“By partnering with Chiliz, UFC now has access to a captive audience of fans from some of the biggest sporting organisations on the planet, creating an unprecedented opportunity to attract new followers,” said Chiliz CEO Alexandre Dreyfus.
“This exciting partnership is the first major example of how we can use blockchain technology to create incredible engagement opportunities not only for our Fan Token partners, but for other leading enterprises, too,” he said.
It’s also a big coup for Chiliz, not least because of UFC’s massive footprint. With more than 80 million followers on social media and an estimated 318 million fans, the mixed martial arts league could bring the blockchain-based platform a substantial uptick in use if even a small percentage of the UFC’ enthusiasts sign up. With UFC’s live MMA events broadcast to almost one billion homes in 170 countries, there are a lot of eyeballs up for grabs.
Click and collect?
While Chiliz Fan Tokens are essentially a cryptocurrency, one big question that remains is whether or not this could pave the way for UFC-themed collectibles to start being bought, sold, and shared on the blockchain.
There has been a lot of excitement about the promise of nonfungible tokens—known as NFTs. These unique digital assets have individual and often rare characteristics—primarily because they have the potential to be blockchain’s answer to baseball cards. Cryptokitties started off the craze, but they are also used by game makers and other sports leagues. In many cases they are usable as pieces in issuer-specific games and fantasy leagues.
Last summer, the NBA announced it was bringing professional basketball to the NFT business with the forthcoming NBA Top Shot. These digital collectables will feature images of players’ in-game action, as well as special moments like Dirk Nowitzki’s last basket as a Dallas Maverick. (The league was less enthusiastic about the New York Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie’s attempt to tokenize his contract.) Like CryptoKitties, NBA Top Shot tokens will be bought, sold, and traded—some for more than others.
A lot more, in some cases. In May, an NFT in Formula 1 racing’s F1 Delta Time game—car “1-1-1” with in-game performance better than any other NFT car in the game—sold at auction for 415.9 ETH. That was more than $113,000 at the time.
Back in March, Chiliz had announced that it planned to use Chainlink’s Oracle Network so collectibles could automatically be created for the sports groups it serves. This doesn’t necessarily mean that soccer fans will be able to get a crypto version of Lionel Messi, but it could lead to rare tokens being created that fans could cherish.
One idea proposed by the company included a specially minted token when a player scores a hat-trick during a game—creating a memento that would help sports devotees to remember a match.
“The Chainlink integration enables us to be responsive to real world sporting events in real time, allowing us to mint limited availability NFTs to commemorate moments that can’t be predicted or recreated, giving these tokens real collectors value,” Dreyfus explained at the time.
Chiliz has been signing up major clubs and sports organizations at a rapid pace, and it plans to have more than 50 platform partners by the end of the year. In addition to soccer and MMA, the fintech firm says it has eSports giants and the entertainment industry in its sights.