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What: Canelo Alvarez’s win over Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night gave him an ever greater visibility boost to a wider U.S. audience.
Why it matters: The Guadalajara, Mexico, native can use this as a springboard to even greater marketing possibilities here moving forward.

The last few weeks if you watched any big sporting event on TV in North America you saw the commercial—in English: Michael Buffer (@Michael_Bufferand Canelo Alvarez (@Caneloin the ring in a lighthearted promotion to try the growing internet streaming service DAZN (@DAZN_USA(pronounced Da ZONE for those who don’t know) tied to his fight this past Saturday against Rocky Fielding (@Rocky87Fielding). It showed a side of the Mexican boxer that many casual fans may not have known, but with his win over Fielding at Madison Square Garden (@TheGardenin New York on Saturday night, making him champion in now three weight classes.

The fight was the kickoff to a partnership between DAZN, which is banking big on boxing’s resurgence, and Alvarez that was signed in the fall, five-year, 11-fight deal that will pay the boxer at least $365 million, making it one of the most lucrative single athlete media partnerships ever.

“By bringing Canelo’s fights to DAZN, we will turn his pay-per-view success into a growth engine for subscribers — a truly transformational moment for our business and for the entire industry,” John Skipper, the executive chairman of DAZN said at the time of the announcement, and Alvarez’s crossover brand power may just prove the investment to be a cost effective one, especially as major companies fight not just for brand recognition and subscribers, but for ancillary disruptive marketing power as well.

Those who have seen his value are already seeing an uptick, and as the next calendar year goes on I’m sure we will see more form him and the companies around him.
Canelo Alvarez/Everlast

Alvarez, once a low key stalwart in the ring, has undergone a brand transformation in the past year, bouncing back from a pre-fight drug test for the use of the banned substance clenbuterol last spring that put off a much anticipated fight against Gennady Golovkin (@GGGBoxingto grab more and more of the limelight in a sport popular with Latinos and growing in popularity with action craving millennials. That’s to say nothing about the millions who will tune in or follow the casual big fight, something that the sport had been lacking in recent years and is now finding a niche once again.

Alvarez is now boxing’s biggest pay-per-view star this side of the still inactive Floyd Mayweather, with recent fights against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Golovkin generating more than one million pay-per-view buys. His midyear place of 62 on the Forbes list of celebrities and athletes will rise to the top ten as the year ends, and his interest, and ability to connect with fans and brands in a multicultural environment will certainly make him move to the watch list of companies looking to continue to step up engagement as 2019 begins.

Canelo’s sponsor list is already growing, and includes deals with Under Armour (@UnderArmour), Tecate (@tecate), Hennessy (@HennessyUSand Everlast (@Everlast_), bringing in more than seven figures outside his boxing and media deals. That should continue to rise as the affluent Latino market tied to sports again grows with the turning of the calendar, and an increased focus in all things Mexican sports business continues to draw attention.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

Gareb Shamus

“We all love great fights, it’s what everyone looks to and we can all identify with no matter how much we sometimes don’t like to admit it,” said Gareb Shamus (@gareba pop culture expert who once ran the fledgling MMA franchise the International Fight League before it was sold to the UFC. “We also love great story arcs with heroes and villains, and Canelo has given fans a little bit of the edginess that can pull from both sides. Most importantly he literally speaks the language of the two most important markets in North America and beyond, English and Spanish, and I think his crossover appeal is great for fight sports, and for business. Those who have seen his value are already seeing an uptick, and as the next calendar year goes on I’m sure we will see more form him and the companies around him.”

There is always risk in tying closely to fight sport athletes. One bad move, one knockout, could kill lots of brand equity. We certainly see that more in MMA, especially in the UFC, where champions can be built and a mismatched opponent, one with a stronger and different discipline, can take out a rising star suddenly. In the carefully crafted world of boxing matchups, the risk is less likely, and the buildup to the big fights gives ample time for brand promotion.

Is Canelo ready to ascend an even higher throne in sport marketing?2019 could be the year for the three belt champion, with boxing on the rise, streaming front and center and the athlete as brand becoming more and more the focus.

It could be a knockout year again for the Mexican star, well beyond his native land.

https://youtu.be/jIhW3fgRSWU

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What: Between UFC traveling to Buenos Aires and Chile, key broadcast deals by Combate Américas, and impressive victories by Hispanic fighters, the sport of MMA continues to grow in the Hispanic market.
Why it matters: MMA companies are finding different ways to tap into the market as MMA gains popularity.

It has been a November to remember for Hispanics in mixed martial arts (MMA).

Between Mexico’s Yair Rodriguez’s (@panteraufc) devastating last-second elbow knockout of the “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (@KoreanZombieMMA) at Ultimate Fighting Championships’s (@ufc) 25th Anniversary show, Santiago Ponzinibbio’s (@SPonzinibbioMMA) victory over Neil Magny (@NeilMagny) in his hometown of Bueno Aires in UFC’s first show in Argentina, and the return of Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) under Oscar de la Hoya’s (@OscarDeLaHoya) Golden Boy Promotion (@GoldenBoyBoxing) banner, Hispanics are making an impact on the sport of MMA, in 2018.

Mexico’s Yair Rodriguez headlined UFC Fight Night 139 against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) 25th Anniversary show.

Since Cain Velasquez (@cainmma) won the UFC Heavyweight championship in 2010, MMA’s popularity has continued to increase in the Hispanic market. A 2017 Washington Post-UMass Lowell poll shows that 31 percent of Hispanics polled identified as MMA fans. Those latest numbers show a huge increase in the sport’s popularity, compared to the results of a 2011 Pew Hispanic Center (@PewHispanic) study, where MMA polled at 6.8 percent.

One of the companies capitalizing on the rising popularity of MMA among Hispanic fans is Combate Américas (@combateamericas). Founded by UFC co-founder Campbell McLaren (@campbellcombate), Combate Américas has evolved from a mun2 (@NBCUniversoreality show — that featured “King of Reggaetón” Latin Grammy award-winner Daddy Yankee (@daddy_yankee) as the show’s first commissioner, Venezuelan Latin Grammy award-winning pop duo Chino y Nacho (@ChinoyNacho ‏) as hosts and SiriusXM host El Piolin (@ElshowdePiolin) as color commentator; and gave 10 fighters in two weight classes a chance to win Combate Américas contracts — to a thriving MMA organization that is launching the careers of fighters coming out the U.S., Mexico, and South America.

“The Hispanic community has been vastly underserved in MMA, even though there are around 600 million Spanish speakers worldwide,” said McClaren to Portada-Online (@portada_online), back in March. “That is why we exist, and we want this community to feel impacted and empowered by Combate Américas. To say we are a ‘niche’ when we are serving an audience of this size, one that is about a third larger than the number of English speakers worldwide, wouldn’t be accurate. What began as a mission to serve the U.S. Hispanic audience is now a platform serving Spanish speakers worldwide.”

McClaren has built on the company’s success, increasing Combate Américas’ exposure this year by signing a 13-fight-per-year streaming agreement with DAZN (@DAZN_USA) for the U.S. English-language broadcast rights, as well as having dealt the U.S. Spanish-language broadcast rights to Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports). Univision will air a total of 16 cards on their linear platform, with preliminary bouts streaming on UnivisionDeportes.com.

“A year ago when we began approaching television networks to air our events, we were getting in the door but not taken seriously. Some of them didn’t understand how strong our product was going to be, especially around millennials,” said McLaren. “To be able to secure this new partnership with Univision Deportes, a sports media brand that is home to the No. 1 Spanish-language sports network and has the best lineup of sports and entertainment programming, shows the immense growth that we’ve experienced within the past couple of years.”

That’s very big that they have a deal with Univision because they are reaching a huge demographic that is not exposed to MMA, that are not necessarily watching Fox Sports or ESPN
Cain Velazquez (credit: The Doppelganger at English Wikipedia)

Known more for their soccer programming, Univision Deportes’ venture with Combate Américas is their first foray into the MMA world. Univision’s immense presence in the Hispanic market has been key in helping Combate Américas expand their brand, as the fledgling MMA company continues to come into its own.

Combate Américas drew a combined 764,000 viewers on Univision and Univision Deportes for their April 13 Combate 20: Estrellas I card, compared to 403,000 viewers Bellator 197 (@BellatorMMA) drew between the Paramount Network (@paramountnet) and CMT (@CMT) network, according to Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma), MMA columnist for Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports).

“As far as exposure, they are on national TV, they are on Univision. That’s huge, Univision is one of the biggest channels out there,” said MMAFighting.com‘s Danny Segura (@dannyseguratv). “That’s very big that they have a deal with Univision because they are reaching a huge demographic that is not exposed to MMA, that are not necessarily watching Fox Sports (@FOXSports) or ESPN (@espn).”

As producer of The MMAHour, Segura has gotten an Octagon-side view of the evolution of the sport in the Hispanic market. Born in Bogota, Colombia, and raised in Florida, Segura became a fan of the sport after watching the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.

“I was first exposed to [MMA] when I first moved to the U.S. with my family. I was in middle school and that was when the first season of The Ultimate Fighter came on,” said Segura. “We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, we didn’t really have any cable or anything like that. But in the city that we lived in, in Florida, within the water bill came a small cable package, and within that package, there were a few channels and one of them was Spike, so I would just watch The Ultimate Fighter all the time.”

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Contemplating between a career in engineering or journalism, Segura started his own website while attending Florida International University (@FIU), paying his dues covering local MMA shows and interviewing champions such as Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight). Segura’s work caught the attention of MMAFighting.com’s Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) and earned a part-time job working for the website while he finished school.

“I was thinking about doing engineering and I was taking some math classes, while I was doing my media stuff on the side, on my free time,” said Segura. “I had to make a decision whether I wanted to continue with engineering or do media. I had already done a few things, I don’t want to call them big but I felt like they were significant work, and I was really enjoying it and I was finding purpose in it.”

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

Segura left for New York City after he graduated, covering different areas of the sport for MMAFighting, working his way up from part-time to full-time, eventually becoming producer for the MMAHour and a panelist of The MMA Beat.

Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC.com)

Having seen different angles of the sport over the years, both as a fight fan and as an MMA journalist, Segura has an understanding of the Hispanic market. Segura believes that while the sport has made great strides in tapping into the market, failure to find a crossover international star that draws casual fans is a missing ingredient that is stunting growth.

The development of talents such as Rodriguez and Ponzinibbio can only help MMA in the South American market. The 26-year-old Rodriguez, fighting out of Chihuahua, Mexico, was The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America winner and has a unique, entertaining fighting style helped him defeat two-time UFC champion B.J. Penn (@bjpenndotcom) as well as aided him in putting on a “Fight of the Year” performance against “The Korean Zombie,” this month.

Ponzinibbio, the 32-year old from La Plata, Argentina who is currently on a seven-fight winning streak, headlined the UFC’s first ever show in Buenos Aires and climbed to number seven in the UFC welterweight rankings after defeating Magny in front of 10,245 fans who came to support their countryman at Parque Roca Arena.

Both fighters hope to reach the success and heights of popularity as Velasquez, the Mexican-American wrestling standout from Arizona State University (@ASUWrestling) who captured the UFC Heavyweight title on two occasions, after beat Brock Lesnar (@BrockLesnar) in 2010 and Junior dos Santos (@junior_cigano) in 2012. Velazquez became a marketable Hispanic star for the UFC, headlining UFC 188 in Mexico City, and drawing 21,036 fans to the Mexico City Arena.

But different factors, including recurring injuries, prevented Velazquez from capturing the hearts, minds and dollars of Hispanic fight fans, in the same manner that Irish MMA fans travel to Conor McGregor when he enters the Octagon, as Segura points out.

“We’re missing that one guy that can combine everything, both talent-wise, and as well as know how to promote his or herself, and has what they call in the fight game as the ‘it’ factor,” said Segura. “This sports is driven by names, by fighters. So if you got the next big thing coming out of Brazil, like Paolo Acosta who is just destroying everyone in his path, of course you are going to cater to that market, of course you are going to use him as a vehicle to get those Brazilian fans, and I don’t think we have had that yet in the Hispanic market.”

What: Henry Cejudo last weekend became the first Olympic champion to win a UFC title.
Why it matters: The new flyweight champion is also the only Hispanic Olympic gold medalist, with a huge personality that is an ideal crossover hit for marketers.

He is an Olympic wrestling champion, the only Latino athlete to take home gold for the United States in the Beijing Olympics in any sport. The son of undocumented immigrants who worked hard to give him a better life, Henry Cejudo’s (@HenryCejudonarrative got all that much better last Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, when he defeated Demetrious Johnson for the UFC Flyweight Championship title.

Following the win, Cejudo, who last year narrowly escaped death in one of the Northern California wildfires, jumping out a hotel window to safety, was immediately hailed as the next breakthrough face of the UFC (@ufc). His size, at only 5 foot 4, his personality—there is a book and a play about his life story already—and his seemingly reckless style which has earned him “Match of the Night” during numerous fights, all bode well for the Mexican-American California resident.

With the UFC in a bit of a plateau, and looking to attract a larger audience of first timers from the Latino ranks, could Cejudo’s rise be great for the Endeavor-owned MMA Venture? It seems so. With Modelo (@ModeloUSAnow on board as the “Official Beer,” and 7- Eleven (@7elevenas “Official Convenience Store,” the UFC’s growth to attract casual fight fans through partnerships is in a great place, and Cejudo can help seed that market now as a champion.

His story should be noticed by brands as an authentic opportunity to connect with Latinos. It’s really a no brainer.

And while Cejudo’s story was attractive even without a UFC belt, his success in the Octagon, coupled with some of the new partners who have come along, could really pay some very timely dividends.

“Being a champion or the best at any sport is always an important milestone for an athlete, and can typically lead to new opportunities. We see this across just about any sport. Add UFC’s brand popularity into this mix, especially among young men, Henry has positioned himself for great possibilities,” said Mario Flores, Managing Partner at Sportivo.  “This win for Henry adds to his already incredible journey: from an immigrant to Olympic champion to UFC champ. His story should be noticed by brands as an authentic opportunity to connect with Latinos. It’s really a no brainer.”

While fighters pimping out signage with body art and on shorts in the Octagon is much more uniform and controlled these days, any host of brands who are fight and training sport savvy and looking for the feel good Latino engagement probably doesn’t need to look much further than Cejudo.

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That could include everyone from mobile partners to financial services, along with the regulars looking to engage in the space like health and wellness brands. And although shoes and apparel are rarely high on the list for MMA  athletes, disruptive brands that score high in the Latino demo may find a home with the UFC’s latest Olympian turned champion.

Now of course the challenge to retain a belt in MMA is just as difficult as the rise to be a champion, but that dual Olympic-UFC narrative is certainly rare, and one that can live on for quite a long time. Cejudo has always been sponsor friendly and his narrative is robust for fight sports as well.

Will it translate into not just personal dollars but a solid bump in awareness for the UFC? Time will tell, but a great stage was set this weekend, once that can be a win for all.

What: Jacqueline Hernandez, formerly of NBCUniversal, has been named President of Combate Americas.
Why it matters: The addition of Hernandez, one of the most prominent Latinas in sports media, is a clear indicator that Combate Americas, targeting the Hispanic fan base, is continuing its rise among MMA promotions.

We’ve chronicled some of the rise of Combate Americas (@combateamericas), which has carved out a solid niche in the mixed martial arts (MMA) world by focusing on the sport’s growing Hispanic base, both in the U.S. and Latin America. This week, Combate took another big step in defining who it is as a company by landing NBCUniversal executive Jacqueline Hernandez (@JSHernandezNYCas its President.

Hernandez, one of the most prominent Latinas in sports media today, will be based in New York and will work with CEO Campbell McLaren on overseeing Combate Americas’s entire business as the company plans its expansion with the Hispanic fan base at its core.

The addition of Hernandez, a proven leader in the business, is a clear indicator that McLaren is trying to position Combate atop all the non-UFC promotions in the sport.

“Jackie is well-positioned to take Combate Americas into a rapidly changing media landscape,” said McLaren in a statement. “She is the undisputed champion of Hispanic millennials and Gen-Z marketing. Her leadership skills are world-class. It is a true honor to welcome her.”

In addition to her tenure at NBCUniversal, Hernandez has extensive experience at global companies like Telemundo Enterprises, People en Español and Teen People, and most recently was the founder of strategic consulting firm M²Z Group, where she worked with Combate Americas as her first client.

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“The intersection of cultures and new identities around the world —including the US— has propelled today’s young generations to be rule breakers, culture benders and trendsetters,” said Hernandez. “I’m excited and honored to join Campbell and the Combate Americas team because we are committed to ensuring new generations see themselves reflected in its fandom. Our audiences and the heroes who bring our franchise to life are the spirit of Combate.”

Combate Americas isn’t the only MMA outfit looking to capitalize on the Hispanic market for the sport. But it’s the one that has taken it the furthest, beginning with an eponymous reality show—similar to The Ultimate Fighter series which helped push the UFC into the mainstream more than a decade ago. The addition of Hernandez, a proven leader in the business, is a clear indicator that McLaren is trying to position Combate atop all the non-UFC promotions in the sport. Last month’s deal between the UFC and ESPN shows that key broadcasters have high interest in MMA programming; Hernandez seems the right fit for growth on that important front.

Combate Americas currently has media agreements with Univision, Azteca 7, ESPN LATAM and Gol, and plans to announce its next round of events soon.

Cover Image: courtesy Combate Americas

What: Combate Americas drew strong ratings on its two live April broadcasts, “Combate Estrellas I” and “Combate Estrellas II” on Univision and Univision Deportes, as well as in Mexico on Azteca 7.
Why it matters: Combate Americas is positioning itself as a premier destination for Hispanic MMA fans, and advertisers have followed.

Combate Americas (@combateamericas), which bills itself as the premier Hispanic mixed martial arts franchise, last week announced the ratings for its first two, live 2018 events, which aired on consecutive Fridays, April 13 (Combate Estrellas I) and April 20 (Combate Estrellas II), in the U.S. and Mexico. Showing the early strength of the new brand and growth of the sport in the Latino community in general, Combate CEO Campbell McLaren (@campbellcombatewas pleased with the numbers.

“The amazing growth of our TV ratings confirms we are the hottest MMA promotion in the world,” McLaren said in a statement. Portada featured McLaren and Combate in an exclusive Q&A last month heading into the events.

According to its release, “Combate Estrellas I,” airing on Univision (@Univision) and simulcast on Univision Deportes Network, drew 583,000 viewers, including a strong 296,000 in the 18-49 demo in the U.S., while garnering more than 4,000,000 pairs of eyeballs on Mexican powerhouse broadcaster Azteca 7.

Combates Estrella II, exclusively broadcasted on UDN, had 200,000 viewers.

In the Hispanic world, Combate Americas has taken the most focused steps, and advertisers have taken notice.

MMA, which began to find a more mainstream audience in the last decade in the U.S. through UFC and other promotions’ agreements with Fox, CBS, AXS TV and others, continues to be a hit with a Latino community steeped in the boxing world. What was one more of a “Wild West” has trimmed somewhat to a more manageable roster of promoters, each finding a niche in the sport.

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In the Hispanic world, Combate Americas has taken the most focused steps, and advertisers have taken notice. Anheuser-Busch’s Estrella Jalisco (@EstrellaJalisco), Advance Auto Parts (@AdvanceAuto), Double Cross Vodka (), HOT 6 Energy Drink and Battle Boom Gaming were all partners for Combate Estrellas II, with fighters from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Argentina among the athletes competing on the cards.

Combates Estrella III, featuring some of the preliminary bouts not shown in the first two events, aired on UDN this past Friday. The next broadcast is set for May 11, live from Sacramento, in Combate Mexico vs. USA.

Cover Image: Credit Combate Americas

What: Modelo Especial has become the official import beer of the MLS’s LA Galaxy, strengthening its deep connection in the sport.
Why it matters: Combined with official beer status with the UFC, Constellation Brands has positioned Modelo well within two sports (MMA and soccer) that resonate strongly with Latino fans.

Constellation Brands (@cbrands) has announced it has extended and expanded its partnership with the MLS L.A. Galaxy (@LAGalaxyand StubHub Center, making Modelo Especial (@ModeloUSAthe official import beer of the club and stadium. The multiyear deal also includes building a Modelo-branded area atop the west terrace. Modelo will also be a lead marketing partner of the team, which will include co-branding marketing materials, fan merchandise, consumer promotions and fan engagements.

Previously the Modelo Especial brand was the exclusive import beer sponsor of both the LA Galaxy and their StubHub Center home. Given that the San Diego Chargers are also playing in the StubHub Center these days, is more Modelo in the offing for sports marketing?

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With the expansion of soccer, Modelo can continue to tie to a pair of sports, fight sports and soccer, that are truly aligned with Latino culture in the U.S.

In addition to their soccer spends, which also includes a partnership that runs until 2020 with CONCACAF (@Concacafand their events from the the Gold Cup, the Women’s World Cup Qualifying Championship, Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, the Futsal Championship, the Beach Soccer Championship and club soccer’s CONCACAF Champions League, the brand is now tied closely to the UFC (@ufc).

Modelo became the official beer of the UFC at the start of 2018, replacing Bud Light, which had served in the role since 2008. Its “Fighting Spirit” tagline fits well with the MMA culture, and Modelo’s build out for consumer and athlete partnerships is just beginning. With the expansion of soccer, Modelo can continue to tie to a pair of sports, fight sports and soccer, that are truly aligned with Latino culture in the U.S., and their brand loyalty build should continue to escalate as they expand marketshare.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

cover image courtesy LA Galaxy

What: Brazilian all-time MMA great Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira has succeeded in his post-fighting career as an entrepreneur, broadcaster, and sports ambassador.
Why it matters: “Minotauro’s” success can be a blueprint for MMA stars from Latin America to increase their marketability in the U.S. and worldwide.

Brazilian mixed martial arts (MMA) athletes have enjoyed success, popularity and a degree of marketability across the Americas for more than two decades. From the Gracie family (Royce won UFC 1, 2 and 4, cousin Renzo has dozens of titles and a worldwide network of academies) to Anderson Silva to Vitor Belfort, stars from Brazil have long been at the top of the card from the UFC (@UFC) and other major promoters.

The heavyweight Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (@Minotauromma), known as “Minotauro” (not to be confused with his brother, Antonio Rogério Nogueira, who went by the same moniker) and “Big Nog,” rose through the ranks for promotions like World Extreme Fighting and PRIDE beginning in 1999. He has grown his following through over more than 40 bouts across the world, including major events in the U.S.

The former PRIDE and UFC champion has always been something of an entrepreneur, seizing the opportunity to set up his own fighting academy in the U.S. in 1996, at age 20.

Since hanging up his gloves after UFC 190 in August 2015 in his adopted hometown of Rio de Janeiro, the Bahia native has used his status in the sport as well as his personality for successful runs as a motivational speaker, broadcaster and, now, UFC ambassador. He’s also given back to the community; along with his brother Rogério, he formed Instituto Irmãos Nogueira 10 years ago, to inspire children.

UFC.com

The former PRIDE and UFC champion has always been something of an entrepreneur. He seized the opportunity to set up his own fighting academy in the U.S. in 1996, at age 20, he registered the “Minotouro” name and set up the Team Nogeira Academy franchise.

Rodrigo’s success outside the octagon can be a template for Latin American MMA athletes. While MMA continues to find its place in the mainstream American sporting landscape, marketability for athletes past and present has been limited in many cases to within brands targeting the sport’s passionate core fans. Perhaps with some additional visibility, Rodrigo can be the kind of ambassador that can make the next generation of Brazilian and other Latin American stars household names here.

Featured Image:Instituto Irmãos Nogueira

What: Ray Flores has become one of the most prominent broadcasters and ring announcers in MMA and boxing.
Why it matters: Flores has set a high standard and serves as an outstanding role model for Latinos in the sports broadcasting word, particularly in combat sports.

The sport of mixed martial arts has grown a lot in the last decade. Top stars have become more recognized outside just its main fandom and the UFC, the sport’s leading organization, is covered by most major media outlets, in line with other top leagues.

As a teen growing up in East Chicago, Ind., Ray Flores‘s love of boxing grew from his family’s fandom and frequent gatherings to watch big fights. When a fellow East Chicago native, Miguel Torres, broke into the sweet science (and eventually moved to MMA), the 17-year-old Flores (@SBRFlores) decided to bring his love of combat sports and intrigue with the world of broadcasting together.

“It started at smaller shows, at the Hammond (Ind.) Civic Center, I did a local interview with Miguel, then I started doing commentary for his fights, that was back in 2005,” Flores told Portada this week via telephone from his current Chicago home, in between international trips to cover the sport. “I paid my way to cover fights in Las Vegas, Columbus, wherever, got to meet the UFC people, and finally got to cover my first UFC fight in 2011, Miguel vs. Antonio Banuelos in Las Vegas, UFC 126.”

Flores […] was tabbed last July as the in-arena host for the whirlwind, four-day Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor press tour which included stops in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn and London.

Through this and other experiences, Flores caught the attention of MMA’s most influential executives. It’s led to work as a ring announcer on the fast-growing Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC, ESPN, Fox, FS1 and NBCN, and last June the now 31-year-old was selected as the lead play-by-play commentator for PBC on FS1.

Boxing: His First Love

Flores has kept to his boxing roots as well, as he was tabbed last July as the in-arena host for the whirlwind, four-day Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor press tour which included stops in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn, and London.

And while Flores believes boxing is still supreme among the Hispanic fan base, he thinks that with the right marketing MMA can achieve the same level of success in the community.

“I definitely see going ahead more people getting involved,” he noted. “The UFC is trying to expand to Mexico, Latin America. ‘Goyito’ Perez, Cain Velasquez, they’re out there educating the fan base about what’s going on. With the right marketing, the UFC and Bellator can do that. There’s so many boxing fans, they just need a big star to come to the forefront and mobilize fans towards MMA.”

Though he downplays his role, Flores is paving the way for Hispanics on the broadcasting front in the sport. His work with mainstream outlets like ESPN Radio, CBS, NBC as well as top Hispanic media such as Galavision and Telefutura have gained him acclaim.

“A lot of other people have paved the way,” added Flores, “like [ESPN and ESPN Deportes’] Bernardo Osuna. I’m just trying to carry the torch in combat sports.”

Fans can catch Flores’ work on beIN Sports on February 8 for Roy Jones Jr. vs. Scott Signon, PBC on Fox on February 17 and on Facebook Boxing on February 24 alongside Paulie Malignaggi.

A summary of the most exciting recent news in sports marketing and media in the U.S., U.S.-Hispanic and Latin American markets. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

U.S./U.S.-HISPANIC MARKET

fight
Kyra “Mogwai” Batara with coach Casey.

MMA sensation Kyra “Mogwai” Batara will represent the organization for the first time in Combate Americas history during the RIZIN FF fight in Tokyo, Japan, on September 25.

Nike and Apple announced their partnership’s newest product, the Apple Watch Nike+, which pairs the exclusive Nike Sport Bands with the Apple Watch Series 2, which features GPS, a display twice as bright as that of previous models, water resistance for depths of up to 50 meters, a powerful dual-core processor and watchOS 3.

Univision Deportes announced its schedule for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification. The line-up includes games played by the U.S., Mexican and Canadian national teams, as well as the debut of the UEFA National Team qualifying matches on UCI’s networks.

These are the #Portada16 Award Finalists in the Sports Marketing Campaign Category:
-Western Union Digital: the “Be Futbol” Campaign
-Bones Love Milk
-Copa Coca-Cola

Winners will be announced at the Sports Marketing Forum, part of #Portada16 on Sept. 14 in New York City’s Yotel.

With this week’s start of the NFL season, the league’s four major TV network partners have cumulatively sold close to $2.5 billion worth of commercial time, Broadcasting & Cable reports. This means each one of the networks has sold more inventory than it did last season, and at higher prices.

Ray Warren.

NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises announced Ray Warren as Telemundo Deportes’ new president. In this new role, the veteran sports executive will oversee NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises’ growing sports business and lead its strategy across all its platforms and networks. He will be responsible for developing both existing franchises and future acquisitions with a keen focus on the FIFA World Cup properties.

Warren will be based in Miami and will report to Cesar Conde, the chairman of NBCUniversal International and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, effective September 19.

DOWNLOAD Portada’s 2016 Sports Marketing Guide!

arroz-oriente-petrolero-bloomingLATIN AMERICAN MARKET

Bolivian soccer clubs Oriente Petrolero and Blooming are trying to earn some additional funds by selling their own rice brands through Silos Montego SRL, which will handle the product’s fabrication and distribution.

Argentine soccer club Boca Juniors is looking for companies willing to pay an unspecified sum to put their name on its Alberto J. Armando Stadium and become its main sponsor starting in 2017. Experts expect the stadium to be named after a multinational.

Liga Mexicana has positioned itself in the top ten of leagues who spent the most on signings during this season. England’s Premier League set records, coming in first through spending €1.4 billion, while Italy’s A Series spent €700 million. In ninth place, we find Liga MX’s €49.5 million.

July was a very busy month for me, and I’ll tell you something about it in this month’s digital bites. As much as the idea behind this column is to talk about others (nicely), it made me want to share my own bites with you. After all, almost all of the people I write about are my colleagues!

So Glamorous

humbertoAt the end of July, I had the pleasure of meeting Humberto Hernandez, the new business director at L’Oréal Luxe. He was only in Argentina for a few days for a trip related to L’Oréal’s luxury brands (Kiehl’s, Clarisonic and Urban Decay). We had a great time making the rounds of the best bars in Buenos Aires while we talked about our trips and professional activity. Friends from the industry already know: let me know when you’re here and I’ll gladly take you around the city (and while we’re at it, you’ll give me material for this column). Another thing: Now I really want to try some Kiehl’s products. Excellent one-on-one branding, Humberto.

Mobile Summit Argentina 2016

Marce Garcia Cisneros, the founder and CEO of Rekket, invited memarce to the Mobile Summit Argentina 2016, organized by the Argentine Mobile Association. The event, which took place on July 13 at the Sony Theater, was a great opportunity to listen to the experiences and lessons from different local players, as well as interact with colleagues and friends. Everyone was there, even the members of the Mobile Marketing Association. We’re like that: competitors, colleagues and friends. In the end, we’re all betting on growth in the digital market.

Where Did Yahoo’s Employees Go?

In mid-June, I ran into Ale Fishman (ex country manager at Yahoo Argentina) at a Social Media Week Mexico event, and he commented that he had recently joined Keynetic Digital as the commercial director for LatAm. Keynetic Digital belongs to Mariano Burstein, who was the general manager of Yahoo Argentina until May 2008.

alfredoLuis Arvizu, who was the general manager of Yahoo Mexico until March 2016, is now the commercial VP for LatAm at MediaMath.

Alfredo Sanchez, who was the sales director at Yahoo Mexico until January 2016, recently joined Televisa Interactive Media as the digital commerce director (he was previously at Simek as the country manager for the Mexico office).

In all three cases, programmatic buying was the first obligatory destination in a “leap of faith” after so many years at a company that was predominantly focused on branding. If there were any doubts about where the market is heading…

Neither Dull Nor Lazy

The Brand100 organizers (“the” annual event in Argentina, for which media outlets pay to bring their most important clients in the region) were smart in choosing Rio de Janeiro as the host city for this year’s event. While it is cutting it close to the end of the Olympic Games, don’t tell me that it wasn’t opportune to take advantage of the press that will be there for the sporting event. An excellent consolation prize for everyone that wanted to go to the games  (although it’s a work-related event, of course).

IAB Now 2016

The most important annual event for the IAB Argentina will take place August 25 in the theaters of the most important local shopping center. Among the confirmed speakers are: Maren Lau (IMS), Fernando Barbella (J. Walter Thompson London), Eric Tourtel (Teads) and Saul Hernandez (Mindshare). It’s going to be great!

From Havas Chile to Minga Digital

After 15 years at Havas Chile, (most recently as the general director), Gonzalo Parra has joined Minga Digital gonzalo(headquartered in Santiago, Chile) as the general manager. Good luck, Gonza! And thank you for always hosting me when I’m in Santiago.

A New Project

In September 2015, I decided to take a paid sabbatical (which is to say, travel and work remotely on different digital projects). It was the best decision that I could’ve made in this first half of my professional career, and I recommend it. I was in a hostel in Salta (a province in Northern Argentina), a four-star hotel in Miami and a friend’s house in Mexico (a country that I’ve been able to visit twice in this period). My last trip will be Spain in August (Madrid, Valencia, Ibiza and Barcelona). Not bad. Nonetheless, I was presented with a project that I couldn’t turn down. Soon, I’ll be updating my LinkedIn profile (for now, I’ll leave you with the intrigue).

Join us at PORTADA Mexico!

What: The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Millward Brown and NetQuest ran a study on mobile users in Argentina and Brazil.
Why It Matters: Both studies aimed to generate insight on opportunities in the mobile market and preferences and profiles for different targets.

After the article dedicated to looking at the state of mobile app marketing, we present the results of the studies that the MMA ran in Argentina in the first half of 2016, and in Brazil in the second half of 2015, in the context of how both markets use mobile devices.

In both cases, men and women were interviewed and grouped by gender, age (those surveyed were between 14-55 years-old), place of residence and socio-economic level.

The information presented in this article is a summary of some of the most important revelations from the study. For more information, contact your local MMA.

Smartphones and Tablets

  • The smartphone is the mobile device with the highest penetration in the Brazilian market: 90% of users with internet access own one. In second place come tablets, with a 44% penetration.
  • In the case of Argentina, the smartphone is the most-used mobile device (with 100% penetration), while 49% of users with Internet access have a tablet (which makes the device the second most-used in the country).

Systems and Brands

  • In both Argentina and Brazil, the Android systems dominates the market, and Samsung is the most popular device brand used by “mobilers.”

Points and Forms of Connection

  • In both Argentina and Brazil, the best connections are found in homes, through private wireless connections. The workplace comes in second. And data plans for connections come in third, followed by public-access wireless.

Time Spent on the Internet through Cell Phones

  • On average, while Argentines spend 2.5 hours on the Internet through their phones a day, Brazilians spend 3 hours and 45 minutes a day on theirs per day.
  • In both cases, millennials (men and women between 14 and 24 years-old) are the most active.

Use of Applications

  • In Argentina, 59% of users are more likely to download free apps. 45% have up to 10 apps and use, on average, seven per week.
  • In Brazil, 87% of users download new apps. The amount of apps installed in every device (on average) is 20, of which six are used weekly.

The Three Most-Used Apps

  • In the case of both Argentina and Brazil, the three most-used applications are Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. The greatest contribution and concentration is observed among Millennials and Gen Y (25-34 years-old).
  • In the case of Argentina, the fourth most-used app is Twitter, while in Brazil it is YouTube.

The Three Preferred Messaging Platforms

  • In Argentina and Brazil, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and SMS (in that order) are the three primary modes through which users send and receive messages.

Ads: Visibility and Measurements

  • In Argentina and Brazil, YouTube and Facebook are the primary platforms that activate ad memory online. In both cases, the general applications come in at third place.

November is an intense month that sometimes resembles those football games in which the adjustments necessary to reach the desired results are achieved in the last minutes. Business events start to mix with holiday parties. Meetings start to smell like 2016. Some decisions are put on the backburner until next year, and others are made in advance.This is the situation we are as we approach the end of November, and here are a few of the month’s latest developments.

Movement in Chile – Part Two

claudio perezA few weeks ago on LinkedIn I found out that Claudio Pérez (whom I used to see frequently on my trips to Chile for Havas) has moved to IMS, which is precisely the team that commercialized LinkedIn. I contacted him, and he commented that he moved over there to replace Alejandro Trujillo, who recently left the position to head over to TAPTAP Networks (in case you didn’t read my latest column, here it is).

Good luck, Clau! (I wonder who will be meeting me when I head over to Havas Chile?)

E-Commerce and Inspiration

I was in the first edition of the Mercado Libre Talks, an event (from what I can tell) with similar characteristics to TED, but with a local focus on global tendencies in innovation and technology as applied to business.

As much as these talks were done by professionals and entrepreneurs of the likes of Marcos Galperín (founder and CEO of Mercado Libre), Roby Souvirón (founder and CEO of Despegar.com), Federico Procaccini (country manager for Google Argentina), Daniel Rabinovich (CTO of Mercado Libre) and Alejandro Zuzenberg (director of Facebook Argentina), I believe that the best part of the event featured the three “best vendors” on Mercado Libre, who were recognized with the award for the best success case.

The competition consisted in a series of interviews with vendors that were pre-selected by Mercado Libre with a focus on the importance that the platform has for their business. These interviews and presentations (which were shown at the end of the event) had been recorded and edited into a “reality show”style video.

I think we all found the stories to be fun and memorable (and emotional), as some of them remembered their off-line business failures, and that thanks to the digital platform created by Mercado Libre, they were able to revive their businesses and improve their and their families lives in different ways.
It was a nice way to close the event.

Audio.ad Incorporates New Media

I spoke to Gonzalo Alonso, the managing director of Audio.ad, alonsowho told me that their office in Colombia is about to close down as a new agreement is signed with some of the most important music streaming services in Europe. Apparently, the platform (whose catalogue contains 35 million songs and is available in 182 countries) will be operating out of Brazil, with a central office in Paris.

Intriguing, Gonzalo!

Digital Talents Are Produced (And For Sale)

Lorena Amarante, one of the pioneers of the Argentine digital lorenaindustry and co-founder of OM Latin America, commented that (on top of continuing with different capacitations in digital marketing) they have just launched a talent search and selection service for the digital industry.

As of now, businesses that are interested in incorporating specialized professionals can trust the expert eyes of the team behind OM Latin America.

For more information, visit: www.omlatam.com

What a great project, Lore!

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Event

goldyJuan Göldy (the fabulous president of the MMA) and Soledad Moll (the general manager of the MMA) invited me to the MMA Forum Argentina 2015, an event dedicated to thinking about mobile marketing from the inside.

It was a full-house (which is no small feat on a day that threatened to bring torrential rain to Buenos Aires).

The organization didn’t leave anything to chance: from relevant presenters (providers of mobile solutions, brands and agencies) to the impeccable catering.

When’s the next one?

Headway Digital Gets Ready to Party

In the last column, we had commented that headway (MediaMath‘s exclusive partner) is turning five years-old. The moment to celebrate has arrived: On November 25, there will be a cheers at a well-known bar in Buenos Aires. Of course, I’ll be there, listening for any new developments.

See you in December!

What: The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) released a report during Adweek in New York City, explaining that Mobile Marketing Expenditures shold increase to US$ 71 billion in the U.S. within the next decade and close to US$ 220 billion globally. Actual Mobile Advertising expenditure in the U.S. is growing at a high rate in the U.S. and is expected to reach US $5.9 billion in 2014.
Why it matters: Mobile Marketing and Advertising are changing the way major marketers and media connect with the consumer and this is reflected in the high growth rate of Mobile Advertising, albeit from a low base. However, according to a study released by the MMA, optimal spend should be even higher.

mobileMMA, a trade association for the mobile marketing industry, released a report during New York’s Advertising Week, “How Big is the Mobile Marketing Opportunity”, which explores the mobile ad market opportunity for both marketers and mobile ad/media sellers. Based on a study that combines empirical data about the effectiveness of mobile advertising with estimates of future mobile device market penetration, the report suggests that within the next decade global ad spend could reach as much as $220 billion globally and $70 billion in the U.S. alone (excluding mobile search).

Instead of US $5.9 billion spend in 2014, the optimal total amount (excluding mobile search) could be US $28.5 billion in the U.S. today.

According to the report, “Instead of US $5.9 billion spend in 2014, the optimal total amount (excluding mobile search) could be US $28.5 billion in the U.S. today. Extended to the total worldwide ad spend of US $543 billion, optimal worldwide spend should be US $86.8B – or more than the current GDP of 123 of the world’s nations.

The MMA bases its recommendation on the following factors:

• Current U.S. smartphone penetration is 51.8% today, and will be 80% within a decade.
• Market Evolution sees impact gains of 20% typically in a new media’s lifecycle, as best execution practices in areas like
targeting and creative optimization techniques take hold. Mobile presents intriguing impact improvement opportunities in areas such as advertiser mobile app deployment, geo-targeting, and highly personalized behavioral targeting.
• The ad spend market should keep its 3.2% annual growth rate.

Given these assumptions, mobile can be expected to hold 29% of the overall optimized mix: a staggering US $71.7 billion in the U.S. and US $ 218.7B total worldwide, and the dominant portion of overall digital ad spend.

Mobile MarketingWhile most popular projections are based solely on time spent, this analysis includes empirical data from a newly developed research methodology (SMoX) that allows MMA’s brand partners to measure the ROI of mobile and its optimized level in the marketing mix. The conclusions of the report confirm what many in the industry suspected: that the current allocation to mobile by marketers is disproportionately low. If marketers were to adjust their mix to align with the current patterns of marketing ROI and media consumption, marketers’ allocations to mobile would rise dramatically. In fact, early indications suggest that the optimized level of media spend should increase by 4-7x compared to current levels in the marketplace.

“Our analysis indicates that the amount brands should spend on mobile has been grossly underestimated and that the industry is likely to be larger than currently predicted,” said Greg Stuart, CEO at the MMA. “We hope this report challenges marketers and agencies to look deeper at how they are allocating their ad dollars, as marketing executives who choose to move first to optimize mobile advertising spend will open an important competitive advantage – a tangible share shift. For the largest advertisers, this could mean hundreds of millions of dollars of additional annual revenue with billion dollar incremental market cap implications, all without spending another advertising dollar.”