ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., July 22, 2009-It's a hit business like no other, a violent and growing sport that's attracted controversy, millions of fans, and some deep pockets. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has battled its way to the top of mixed martial arts, continuing to dominate the competition and thrive in a troubled economy when other sports are faltering.
On Wednesday, July 29th at 10PM & 1AM ET, CNBC presents "Ultimate Fighting: Fistful of Dollars," a CNBC special reported by CNBC's Scott Wapner that takes a new behind-the-scenes look at Ultimate Fighting Championship- the biggest brand in mixed martial arts, one of the fastest growing sports in the world. The documentary builds on earlier reporting, first aired in 2007, with new interviews and coverage throughout.
Wapner travels to Germany for the UFC's first-ever event in mainland Europe, and goes inside the Octagon with Dana White, the controversial front man who's helped raise the brand to new heights with a shrewd business sense and a style shaped more in the gym than the corporate suite. CNBC also speaks with wealthy backers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, and profiles a stable of standout fighters -- including star Rich Frankin -- who have helped the league grow from a dying franchise to a global sensation in less than a decade.
The program explores the early days of UFC, when it played to meager crowds and was banned from television. Today, the UFC has established a formidable presence in the sporting world and on the landscape of popular culture, and Madison Avenue has taken notice. In 2007, marquee brands were reluctant to advertise with a league that had a dubious, no-holds-barred past. Though some controversy remains, the UFC has gone mainstream, and Fortune 500 companies like Budweiser and Harley-Davidson have become big-time backers.
With a reported $275 million in revenues last year, the UFC's success has not gone unnoticed, and a number of would-be competitors have emerged. Wapner interviews billionaires Mark Cuban and Donald Trump, who are working together to present mixed martial arts events, promising top fighters and revenues to match. Dana White tells Wapner that they are just another in a long list of competitors he is ready to take to the mat.
CNBC also takes a look at the range of promotions, endorsements and movie deals tied to the sport, as well as at TapouT, the successful apparel company created by three hardcore fans who turned their passion for mixed martial arts into a $100 million dollar business.
For more information including video clips and slideshows log onto: ufc.cnbc.com.
CNBC's "Ultimate Fighting: Fistful of Dollars" will re-air on Friday, July 31st at 1AM ET and Sunday, August 1st at 10PM ET.
Mitch Weitzner is the Executive Producer of "Ultimate Fighting: Fistful of Dollars." Alison O'Brien is the Producer.
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