The UFC and Modelo Especial officially kicked off a multiyear, multimillion-dollar partnership on Jan. 1.
And so far, the biggest beneficiary of the deal might be UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic‘s mother.
A key part of Modelo’s marketing strategy is its “Fighting Spirit” campaign, which consists of a series of commercials that profile successful, blue-collar-minded individuals. When Modelo surveyed the UFC’s roster for an athlete to partner with, it quickly chose Miocic.
In December, Miocic, who defends his title against Francis Ngannou next week at UFC 220, attended a one-day commercial shoot in Los Angeles — accompanied by his mother, Kathy.
“From sunrise to sunset, she had a smile on her face,” said Miocic, who fights out of Cleveland. “I invited her not knowing how she’d take it, but she jumped all over it. She got to see how it worked and loved every second of it.”
Kathy’s involvement was special in that she has never attended one of her son’s fights. Even when Miocic sold out Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena in September 2016, Kathy stayed home. She can’t take watching Miocic fight live.
Part of last month’s commercial shoot, however, was re-creating Miocic’s walk to the UFC’s Octagon. Director Matt Bieler aimed to make it as realistic as possible, down to several finer details of Miocic’s previous walkouts.
It offered Kathy an opportunity to witness her son on “fight night,” minus the anxiety of actually watching him compete.
“It was quite an experience,” Kathy said. “There was an audience watching him walk to the Octagon. I got to see how serious he gets before a fight. The best part was spending time with him and experiencing something he enjoys.”
The commercial will air sometime in the first quarter of 2018.
Miocic (17-2) was born in the United States to Croatian immigrants. He is an active firefighter in Ohio and despite his status as champion is pegged as an underdog against Ngannou at UFC 220.
“As we looked across the UFC, Stipe rose to the top as one of the stories we’d like to tell,” said Ann Legan, Modelo’s vice president of marketing. “And we’re looking forward to telling the stories of other UFC fighters with this digital video series.”
Modelo became the official beer of the UFC at the start of 2018. Prior to the announcement of that deal, Bud Light had served in the role since 2008.
“When Bud Light first put its logo on our mat, people knew we were a permanent part of the sports landscape,” said UFC COO Lawrence Epstein. “It was a great partnership for us, but the activation was never what we wanted it to be.
“Modelo has two priorities: UFC and soccer. They’re putting together an incredible ad campaign involving our athletes. Their tagline is ‘Fighting Spirit,’ which is obviously completely consistent with the UFC product.”