Spike TV, who is rebranding itself as the go to network for fights, has just launched a new campaign called “Fighters First.” The campaign was created to place more promotional and marketing efforts on the fighters themselves instead of the larger institutions.
Special attention is given to the women, “being as tough as the guys,” and one male fighter saying that nobody gets to tell him what to wear.
Bellator has a partnership with Spike to show content. Previously, the UFC broke into profitability through their exposure on Spike and the success of The Ultimate Fighter on the network.
This is a pretty clear shot to the UFC. The UFC has said in the past that no one fighter is bigger than the UFC brand. When considering the state of the UFC when the Fertitta brothers bought the company it makes sense why so much emphasis was put on building the brand and not the fighters.
There has been a counter-movement against the immense bargaining power that the UFC has over fighters. Bellator and Spike have found a way to differentiate themselves to fighters through their greater emphasis on spending company dollars towards individual athlete marketing.
It will be interesting to see how the Bellator/Spike partnership works long-term in swaying athletes to their brand and ultimately how it fits into the financial success of the companies.