Light Wave


Bud Light attempting comeback with landmark UFC sponsorship

By CM Chaney · October 25, 2023

In brief…

  • Anheuser-Busch (dba A-B InBev) is making a comeback as a major sponsor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in a nine-figure, six-year deal, the largest in UFC's history.
  • The agreement, set to begin on January 1, 2024, includes octagon branding, digital content, broadcast integrations, and on-site branding.
  • A-B's return follows a change in their position as the top-selling beer in the U.S., with Modelo taking the lead, partly due to controversy over a sponsorship with a transgender social media influencer.
Anheuser-Busch makes a significant return to the UFC as its major sponsor with a nine-figure, six-year deal, marking the UFC's most substantial sponsorship agreement, as the brewing giant aims to reconnect with its core consumers and regain market share.  Lee Brimelow / Wikimedia

After a six-year hiatus, Anheuser-Busch (dba A-B InBev), the global brewing giant, is returning as a prominent sponsor for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in a landmark deal said to be worth nine figures.

This comeback represents a significant shift for the brewing company, as Modelo displaced Bud Light as the UFC sponsor back in 2017.

The agreement is set to be the UFC’s most substantial sponsorship deal ever, with a global reach and a six-year term that begins on January 1st, marking the return of A-B InBev to the octagon, sources tell Sports Business Journal.

The deal encompasses various components, including octagon branding, social and digital content, broadcast integrations, and on-site branding.

A-B InBev, the parent company of Bud Light, had served as the UFC’s beer sponsor from 2008 until 2017. Their return to the UFC sponsorship scene comes at a time when Anheuser-Busch has faced challenges to its long-standing position as the country’s top-selling beer.

Modelo recently overtook Bud Light as the best-selling beer in the United States. This change in the hierarchy was partly attributed to a backlash and boycott stemming from a sponsorship deal with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

As a response to these challenges, A-B InBev is making an effort to reconnect with its core consumer base and regain market share.

“Clearly, they are trying to get traction with their core consumer and stabilize (share),” Tony Ponturo, a former A-B sports executive, commented on A-B’s strategy. “They are losing shelf space, and this is an attempt to reclaim some of that. Back then, and now, this is a square shot at grabbing those 21-34 male drinkers.”

This sponsorship deal represents a significant development for the UFC and showcases the organization’s prowess in securing top-tier sponsorships within the alcoholic beverage category.

The UFC’s record-breaking efforts extend beyond A-B InBev, with domestic sponsorships that include Atomic Brands’ Monaco line of ready-to-drink cocktails, Jose Cuervo (official tequila), Howler Head banana-flavored bourbon (official flavored whiskey), and New Amsterdam (vodka).

Despite previous controversies, A-B InBev’s renewed sponsorship of the UFC adds a degree of legitimacy to the mixed martial arts property.

The negotiations for this significant partnership were led by Endeavor Holdings President Mark Shapiro and UFC CEO Dana White representing the UFC while A-B CEO Brendan Whitworth and Group VP Consumer Connections Spencer Gordon negotiated for A-B InBev.