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William Hill Signs With Bellator MMA

February 26, 2020

- Grant Whittington

Sports betting industry giant William Hill has just closed a deal to become the exclusive gambling partner of Hollywood-based Mixed Martial Arts organisation Bellator MMA. The new agreement was officially announced just ahead of the Bellator Dublin event held in Ireland on Saturday the 22nd of February, which was sponsored by the bookmaker.

Bellator Excited About Partnership

Bellator MMA was established in 2008 and is considered one of the main competitors to the – admittedly much larger – Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC. The UFC owns Connor McGregor, Jon Jones and other famous fighters, and has already lined up sports betting partnerships of its own.

These partnerships include a collaboration with IMG Arena, a betting platform provider with over 300 clients, to create UFC Event Centre. This live betting facility that fully integrates in-play wagers with statistical analyses. The software is available to bookmakers for licensing, allowing the operators to offer as many as 50 markets on a UFC bout.

Bellator MMA feels that similar partnerships are essential to its own continued growth, and President of Bellator Europe David Green said his company was delighted to be collaborating with William Hill. Green went on to describe the bookmaker as one of the world’s largest betting companies, making them excellent partners as the Bellator brand continued to grow in the United Kingdom and across Europe.

Historic Bellator Dublin

In his public statement Green also touched on the historic Bellator Dublin fight held on the 22nd of February at indoor amphitheatre 3Arena, located at the Dublin Docklands’ North Wall Quay. This was the first time that female fighters headlined a Bellator event in the European series, as Leah McCourt of Northern Ireland faced off against Germany’s Judith Raas. Channel 5, which has been working with Bellator for a year and will continue to do so into 2020, televised the match.

McCourt defeated Raas via unanimous decision, and the exciting action also included fights between Charlie Ward and Kyle Kurtz, and between Austin Clem and Aaron Chalmers. Victory went to Ward via third-round TKO, while another unanimous decision declared Clem the winner. Several other talented contenders also went up against each other on the undercard.

A Logical Partnership

William Hill’s logo was printed on the canvas as Bellator Dublin, and the company’s visibility in the world of Mixed Martial Arts will only increase from here. Their Global Head of Media and Sponsorship, Liam McKee, explained that partnering with a major promotion such as Bellator made sense to his company, because MMA is among the world-s fastest-growing sports.

The Bellator events that have previously been aired on Channel 5 have had impressive viewing figures, McKee continued, and the organisation has established a strong audience share in recent years which also made it an attractive prospect for William Hill.

The fervour that the recent Dublin event generated should only have confirmed the bookmaker’s feelings that signing with the MMA company was the right move. In addition, the newly-inked agreement comes at a time when William Hill and other operators are cutting the ties they have traditionally had with United Kingdom and Irish Football, as betting scandals and criticisms of the partnerships continue.

The Football Association of Ireland and the English Premier League’s Everton FC have both ended the deals they had with Kenyan operator SportPesa, before the contracts were finished, and Ladbrokes called time on its Scottish Professional Football League sponsorship at the end of the season.

Other examples of terminating agreements abound, while some operators are opting to try riding out this rough patch by adding responsible gambling messages to their shirt displays. In this climate, it makes sense that William Hill is adopting an Out With the Old, In With the New approach and signing with an up-and-coming Mixed Martial Arts brand like Bellator

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