[Photo: courtesy of UFC]
FC and Dapper Labs are launching a new NFT collectible today called UFC Strike, which will be like NBA Top Shot, except for the first time, it will feature live crowd and announcer audio on the highlights. Before the pandemic started and before NFTs gained mainstream popularity, the two sides announced their partnership in February of 2020. Lawrence Epstein tells SBJ that the fighting property was such an early mover because its owner, Endeavor, had invested in Dapper Labs. Fans and collectors will have the opportunity to buy the highlight reel NFTs this Sunday at 2:00pm ET, following UFC270 at Honda Center. It took the sides about two years to create the Strike product..
“When you’re watching the (UFC) broadcast, you can hear the commentator, the crowd noise, and sometimes the athletes and coaches,” says Tracey Bleczinski, head of consumer products for the UFC, who believes this will be a unique differentiator.
UFC Strike will also have its own customized look: NFTs will be housed in an octagon-shaped structure, a nod to the shape of a UFC ring, which is often used in branding materials, and the site will have plenty of gold and black imagery—the colors of a UFC championship belt.
Otherwise UFC Strike will feel very much like Top Shot as it rolls out, with drops of packs timed to coincide with UFC pay-per-view events; a Discord channel where fans can chat; a marketplace to buy and sell NFTs; and opportunities to earn VIP experiences. As for how the deal is financially structured with Dapper, the UFC will receive a royalty fee on all NFT transactions in both primary and secondary markets (terms were not disclosed). The UFC will then split its share 50-50 with athletes.
The drop on Sunday will include 100,000 Moments, divided into Fandom and Championship tiers, all priced at $50 per pack. “It’s our first completely open drop,” says Caty Tedman, head of partnerships at Dapper Labs. “Others started with a closed beta, but there’s no gating with this one.”
Tedman adds that Dapper has been partners with the UFC since 2019 (Endeavor, which owns the UFC, was an early investor in the company), but that “we’re just now coming around to really a maturity level at the company where we’re ready to launch the product.”
Her hope is that UFC Strike will expand the UFC’s fanbase and prove to be a gateway for blockchain enthusiasts who aren’t following the sport. “There are a lot of people within the blockchain world who are into these products but not necessarily the brand or the sports they represent. So we hope to bring new eyeballs to the sport,” Tedman says. “Once you watch it, you attend an event, and then you’re hooked.”