Bud Light is headed back into the Octagon. On Tuesday, the UFC announced a sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch, once again making Bud Light the fighting organization’s official beer partner as of January 1, 2024. An anonymous source familiar with the terms of the agreement told Yahoo Sports that the deal is worth over $100 million, making it the biggest sponsorship deal in UFC history.
“Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light were UFC’s original beer sponsors more than fifteen years ago. I’m proud to announce we are back in business together,” says UFC CEO Dana White. “There are many reasons why I chose to go with Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light, most importantly because I feel we are very aligned when it comes to our core values and what the UFC brand stands for. I’m looking forward to all of the incredible things we will do in the years ahead.”
Despite Anheuser-Busch being the mixed martial arts organization’s first beer sponsor, the company lost its previous deal in 2019 when the brand was replaced by Modelo. Now that Modelo’s deal has expired, Anheuser-Busch has swooped back in to revive their partnership.
The timing of this switch is certainly curious, as Modelo recently surpassed Bud Light as the most popular beer in America with the most retail sales nationwide. While Modelo had been closing in on Bud Light’s lead for the past several years, a conservative boycott following Bud Light’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney in April caused the beer brand’s sales to plummet and allowed Modelo to claim the top spot. Bud Light also received backlash for handling the boycott poorly, including its lukewarm initial response and failure to reach out to Mulvaney regarding the transphobic attacks she received online.
It appears that UFC has no issue partnering with the brand despite its scandal-ridden year, and this massive deal could be an effort for Bud Light to win back some of the conservative customers that it lost as a result of the fallout. According to a statement from Anheuser-Busch, the partnership will give “meaningful brand visibility” for Bud Light, appearing before over 700 million fans in 170 countries as well as an estimated 900 million TV households that receive UFC broadcasts.
“As leaders of our category, we are focused on new opportunities to connect with consumers in new occasions,” Marcel Marcondes, Global Chief Marketing Officer of AB-InBev sys. “UFC has become an undeniable force in the sports industry, and that’s why we’re so excited to partner with them and continue to amplify this sport around the world. We will be creating new and exciting brand experiences for UFC fans.”