AirAsia makes global presence felt, inks sponsorship deal with UFC

Mixed martial arts organisation UFC is partnering up with AirAsia to serve as the global brands first-ever “Official Airline” sponsor.

As part of this collaboration, AirAsia will obtain rights to signage and branding inside UFC’s world-famous Octagon during the event in Shanghai and select international UFC events in 2018. With this partnership, AirAsia will also serve as presenting sponsor of select UFC Fan Experiences throughout the region and promote a national sweepstakes campaign where two fans will win a UFC VIP Experience during an event in 2018.

Along with integration during international UFC events, this sponsorship will also deliver exciting co-branded content to Asian fight fans via AirAsia and UFC’s media platforms. UFC and AirAsia will also jointly sponsor content featured on Weibo and WeChat platforms in China.

These initiatives include monthly training sessions featuring UFC athletes and members of the UFC Performance Institute’s staff.   The airline brand will also be integrated across multiple UFC-based social and digital platforms, as well as having a presence during live-event broadcasts and on The partnership, which encompasses Asia and Australia, will begin on 4 November, during the "UFC 217: BISPING vs. ST-PIERRE" match, live from Madison Square Garden in New York.

“In many ways, UFC’s rapid rise as a global phenomenon parallels AirAsia's,”Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia, said. “The UFC expanded from its first event in Denver to the rest of the US and then to Asia Pacific and the world, while AirAsia grew from a small domestic airline into Asia's largest low-cost carrier that now flies to the US. Opposite directions but chasing the same dream, and we are thrilled to team up with a brand that shares our drive and vision.”

AirAsia will begin its international activations during UFC’s historic inaugural event in mainland China at UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SILVA vs. GASTELUM on 25 November.

“This deal is an indication of how much UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts have grown in Asia and around the world,” UFC vice president of Asia Pacific Kevin Chang said. “AirAsia is an innovative and fast-growing brand, we thank them for the support and we’re looking forward to creating engaging branded content for fight fans and AirAsia customers to enjoy.”

UFC and AirAsia will also select the first-ever UFC scholarship program recipient. As part of this program, one Asia-based athlete will be awarded an all-expenses paid scholarship that includes travel to the United States and training at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Earlier this year, in a conversation with Marketing, UFC senior vice-president of international business, Joe Carr said UFC is looking to put its focus back into Asia. He added that currently, bringing the sport to Asia is one of UFC’s “biggest costs” and “millions are spent just bringing the sport into Asia”.

In Asia, the UFC brand was still in growth mode and “needs as many eyeballs as possible”.