After a short running partnership with FullTilt Poker, the UFC has officially banned FullTilt as a sponsor. The ban will include any and all mention of FullTilt, on signage as well as fighter apparel.
Many thought this was due to the long debated illegality of online poker and/or the competition online gambling sites pose to traditional “brick and mortar” Casinos. Neither seems to be the case for the recent ban, rather a less conscience laden reason is the cause.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, as well as multiple fighters, have now teamed up with UltimateBet for “UFC 97: Redemption”. Ultimate Bet, one of the largest online gambling networks, will be sponsoring the UFC promotion itself, as well as Chuck Liddell, Mauricio Rua, Thales Leites, Anderson Silva, Krzystof Soszynski, Eliot Marshall, and Antoni Hardonk for UFC 97.
It is still yet to be determined what, if any, reaction the traditional Las Vegas casinos will have. Online bookmakers, poker, blackjack, and casino sites can tentatively cut into Casino profits, and are illegal to fund for United States players. However, there is a loophole in the little known law, which is part of the Port Security Act, which makes the funding of online gambling a federal crime.
Most, if not all, online gambling sites have both .com and .net sites, which look identical. The difference being the .com sites are actual real money gambling sites, whereas the .net sites are for fake money and for “educational” and “learning” purposes. The catch being anyone can access the .com sites via multiple links on the .net pages.
Neither the UFC nor UltimateBet(UB) have commented on the length or the stipulations of the sponsorship deal. Yet, with both online gaming and mixed martial arts attempting to gain main stream acceptance worldwide, one can expect to see more dealings of this type in the future, in the UFC and the other MMA organizations.