Manager: Bud Light Moving Away from Individual Sponsorships of UFC Fighters

Damon MartinContributor IApril 22, 2013

Sep 22, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones before the start of his fight against fighter Vitor Belfort (not pictured) during a light heavyweight bout at UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 selling beer in America will continue to support the UFC, but it appears Bud Light's individual sponsorships of the athletes competing in the Octagon has come to an end.

The Annheuser-Busch brand first stepped into the arena of mixed martial arts back in 2008, and as recently as 2011 recommitted to the UFC with a new multi-year endorsement deal.

Over the years, Bud Light has also sponsored individual fighters, including UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and former light-heavyweight king Chuck Liddell, among several other high profile competitors.

It appears as 2013 rolls on, Bud Light has begun to back away from individual athletes endorsements and instead focused on the overall brand as they continue to work with the UFC.

Jason Genet, president of Ingrained Media, had two separate UFC fighters under his management signed to endorsement deals with Bud Light, including former interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin.

Genet confirmed when speaking to Bleacher Report on Monday that Bud Light was changing its direction of sponsorships for individual athletes in the UFC in 2013.

At the time Genet spoke to representatives from the company he was told they were no longer doing any athlete specific endorsements with UFC fighters as of this year.

The move away from individual sponsorships with celebrity endorsements isn't necessarily new in the current marketplace.  Pepsi has famously severed ties with celebrities such as Britney Spears and Beyonce Knowles when the cost of such sponsorships didn't relate back into results for sales and promotion.

Current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was actually featured in a prominent Bud Light commercial alongside UFC president Dana White in 2011.  His involvement with the brand likely took a big hit in 2012 when he was arrested and charged with a DUI in New York.

Liddell was among the first UFC athletes sponsored by Bud Light, but he has recently popped up in a new Miller Lite commercial airing across North America in their new advertising campaign.

In 2012, Anheuser-Busch reprimanded the UFC for several remarks made by some fighters in the organization, but it's unclear if this latest move by the company had anything to do with that earlier situation

"We've communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act," said a statement from the company, released to Advertising Age in April 2012.

The UFC responded by stating they do not condone fighters making "insensitive or inappropriate comments" and the promotion has actually just recently instituted a new Code of Conduct policy for the competitors under contract to them.

Regardless of individual sponsorships, Bud Light remains a steadfast sponsor of the UFC as a whole. It just appears that they, like many companies, are beginning to shy away from celebrity or athlete specific endorsements.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.