DraftKings Continues Its Push To Dominate MMA Betting By Striking A Deal With Professional Fighters League

Posted By Derek Helling on April 23, 2021

If DraftKings Sportsbook gets its way, it will be the first and only brand thought of by MMA bettors.

The gambling company took another step toward investing in such an outcome on Tuesday, becoming perhaps the most visible sponsor of the Professional Fighters League.

The PFL begins its 2021 season on Saturday. Although New York bettors won’t be able to wager on the events online just yet, DraftKings will have some options available in the Empire State.

Details of DraftKings’ deal to become the latest PFL sponsor

DraftKings and the PFL announced their collaboration Tuesday, making the former the “Official Sportsbook and Daily Fantasy Partner” of the MMA promotion circuit. DraftKings gets signage around the venue and mentions during broadcasts of events.

In exchange for that promotion, DraftKings will offer more of the pool-style games that it began to make available in 2019. New York MMA fans can access those contests. According to the press release, those games drew over 30,000 unique plays in 2019.

This year might draw more attention, though. The entire six-event season will take place at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City. Additionally, ESPN2 and ESPN+ will offer coverage, among other streaming services.

This Saturday’s action starts at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ before switching over to ESPN2 at 9 p.m. DraftKings already has betting markets live for the entire card in states like New Jersey. The main event, Clay Collard vs. Anthony Pettis, has Pettis favored -590 on the moneyline.

This deal represents a new level of visibility for the PFL. In addition, it is another signal that DraftKings is serious about becoming the premier brand when it comes to betting on MMA.

Haven’t we seen this somewhere before?

If you think a deal trumpeting the oncoming onslaught of DraftKings ads and plastering of the company’s logo everywhere during MMA events looks familiar, you’re onto something. In early March, the UFC gave DraftKings the same distinction as PFL has now done.

That partnership also involved new pools, betting markets, an innovative fight clock and a lot of publicity for DraftKings during fights. The PFL could bring innovation to MMA betting as well. The league has a proprietary SmartCage system that provides analytics and biometrics.

Using that technology, DraftKings might someday be able to offer prop bets on things like fighters’ heart rates and punch speeds. However, the regulatory landscape in most jurisdictions does not currently allow for such markets.

If they ever become permissible, DraftKings might be first to market. The gambling company certainly seems to be trying to corner the market when it comes to getting MMA fans’ attention.

Photo by AP / Gregory Payan
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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