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the influence of athlete-driven marketing in combat sports – Ash’s Sports Talk

UFC Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, and lightweight veteran, Dan Hooker, linked up on Israel’s YouTube channel to share what future UFC match-ups they’d like to see.

The match-ups both athletes agreed on included the following.

Strawweight division

Rose Namajunas vs Mackenzie Dern (Israel’s match-up)

Carla Esparza vs Weili Zhang (Dan’s match-up)

Women’s Pound-For-Pound

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko 3 (Israel’s match-up)

Women’s Flyweight

Casey O’Neil vs Maycee Barber (Dan’s match-up)

Men’s Bantamweight

Suga Sean O’Malley vs Cory Sandhagen (Israel’s match-up)

Frankie Edgar vs Dominick Cruz (Dan’s match-up)

Men’s Featherweight

Max Holloway vs Bryce Mitchell (Israel’s match-up)

Max Holloway vs Giga Chikadze (Dan’s match-up)

Yair Rodriguez vs Josh Emmett (Dan’s match-up)

Men’s Lightweight

Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler 2 (Israel’s match-up)

Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev (Dan’s match-up)

Men’s Welterweight

Khamzat Chimaev vs Shavkat Rakhmanov (Israel’s match-up)

Jorge Masvidal vs Gilbert Burns (Dan’s match-up)

Men’s Middleweight

Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira (Israel’s match-up)

Darren Till vs Paulo Costa (Dan’s match-up)

Men’s Light Heavyweight

Jiří Procházka vs Aleksandar Rakić (Israel’s match-up)

Men’s Heavyweight

Dominick Reyes vs Dustin Jacoby (Dan’s match-up)

Ciryl Gane vs Tom Aspinall (Israel’s match-up)

Francis Ngannou vs Tai Tuivasa (Dan’s match-up)

Men’s Pound-for-Pound

Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones (Israel’s match-up)

Alexander Volkanovski vs Charles Oliveira (Dan’s match-up)

Based on the reception following Izzy releasing this content on his YouTube channel, articles from MMA accredited journalists have been produced surrounding some of these potential match-ups and the impact they could make on the UFC. This could become more influential as potential bouts Dana White considers making as the media are highly effective towards promoting the company. Here’s an example regarding an article reported about Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko 3.

Content avenues to branch off from

Majority of the comments on this video share appreciation of Israel and Dan collaborating on matchmaking content. For this reason, it can continue to be capitalised on with Dan and Izzy collaborating on other content streams, which they do regularly, such as training drills, fight breakdowns, interviews etc. Other avenues that can be considered involve…


There’s a creator named Mojahed Fudailat, who regularly produces MMA-themed cartoons before and after combat sports events. Ultimately, meme marketing content is an effective opportunity to garner brand awareness among casual audiences to discuss upcoming stars across the UFC. For this reason, as well as Israel and Dan being highly acknowledged amongst hardcore MMA fans, this could be a chance for them to reach new demographics through independent creators capitalising on content creation opportunities.

Check out a blog I produced that specifically focuses on meme marketing across MMA:


Many MMA personalities, including Michael Bisping, Chael Sonnen, the BT Sport UFC punditry team, and Ariel Helwani, take their content very seriously and pay attention to content distributed from Israel Adesanya as an opportunity to build their content avenues. For example, Ariel can specifically garner clips through his MMA hour show by targeting athletes referenced through Adesanya’s recent YouTube upload. The same applies to the BT Sport UFC content team alongside Michael Bisping & Chael having general discussions through uploads onto YouTube.


Considering the appetite proving lucrative from a consumer perspective on Adesanya’s most recent upload, it’s evident that this matchmaking theme could become a regular content stream. The reason is that it can help ensure the UFC is remained driven by their most influential athletes to keep making the fights that fans truly want to see.

Focusing on the bigger picture, Israel Adesanya & Dan Hooker, two teammates who share 8.7m+ social media followers between themselves, have opened a realm of opportunity through content for the MMA community to maximise impact on to grow their brands and, most importantly, allow MMA to continually represent it’s core purpose, making the most competitive match-ups happen.

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