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UFC, Dapper Labs announcing long-awaited NFT partnership

By Adam Stern

UFC and Dapper Labs today are finally unveiling their new NFT collectible product called UFC Strike, which will be like NBA Top Shot but for the first time will feature live crowd and announcer audio on the highlight. The two sides first struck their partnership in February '20, right before the pandemic started and before NFTs gained mainstream popularity. UFC COO Lawrence Epstein tells SBJ that the fighting property was such an early mover because its owner, Endeavor, had invested in Dapper Labs. The Strike product took about two years to develop, as today the sides are announcing that fans and collectors will start being able to purchase the highlight reel NFTs this Sunday at 2:00pm ET, the day after UFC270 at Honda Center.

DEAL DETAILS: Among the NFTs being minted are recent highlights and historic moments from the fighting series, which was founded in 1993. Strike will start with a release of 200,000 packs, and a pack will cost $50. The promo video the sides are releasing today to announce the venture has UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer doing the voiceover. UFC also has NFT deals with Crypto.com, whose NFTs are focusing on specific events, and Panini, whose NFTs are replicas of physical trading cards. As with those other NFT deals, UFC is splitting 50% of the revenue from the Dapper Labs NFTs with fighters. Like NBA Top Shot and NFL All Day, the UFC Strike platform will include the ability for users to not just buy but also sell and trade NFTs from other users. Epstein said that the goal is to attract not just UFC fans to the Strike platform but also broader crypto fans who may not be fans of the fighting series yet.

THE BIG PUSH: SBJ first reported in December that Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel was pushing UFC execs to get the series involved with the so-called metaverse, and Epstein told SBJ yesterday that all the NFT moves his exec team are making are part of figuring that out. Epstein: “We do see all of these things potentially all converging in the metaverse at some point. So we got our eye not just on an NFT product like UFC Strike but also how does it fit into the overall digital ecosystem UFC is trying to develop. … (Emanuel) is constantly pushing us, and he wants us to develop live fights ASAP in the metaverse, so we’re going to get there and live fights, NFTs, fan tokens -- all these digital products will play a role in the metaverse experience.”

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