Membership Strategies from the UFC

I recently had the opportunity to attend a UFC Fight in Las Vegas.

The UFC has become one of the fastest growing organizations in sports.  The Fertitta Brothers bought the UFC in 2001 for two million dollars and 15 years later sold it for four billion dollars.  Not a bad ROI.

But that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about how the UFC has turned it’s business into a membership business.  Most don’t think of it that way but it is. Many in the UFC organization itself probably don’t realize how much of a membership organization it has become.  Here’s why:

  • They’ve created a culture around three simple letters: U-F-C
    Hardcore fans will tell you that the sport is MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) but for those on the fringe, it’s just the UFC. The UFC has become synonymous MMA. They’ve built a culture that people want to be part of. Every fighter wants in the UFC (not some other organization.) Fans will pay high dollar to attend their events.  The most recent UFC event brought in tickets as high as $18,000!
  • They know how to market to their audience.
    Most don’t know this but the UFC used to be banned. It wasn’t until 2016 that the UFC was actually allowed to host events in NY. From the beginning they knew they had to market differently to create and build their fan base. So they created “The Ultimate Fighter” (aka TUF). TUF was started as a way to build their audience for their pay per view events. They hosted a reality show and the season finale was a pay per view. They still do this.
    If you look at how they market their other pay per view events, they will offer a live free event on Fox Sports and promote the next pay per view (which always happens the following weekend) throughout the broadcast. You think you’re watching an event but you’re really watching an infomercial for their next pay per view.
  • They have built a membership program – UFC Fight Pass
    They launched their membership program in 2013 and it now has over 450,000 subscribers (at $9.99 per month.) They offer members a full library of MMA fights including an archive of all the UFC events and many other organizations within MMA.
    They host member only events at the Live Events, discounts on merchandise and other promotions.

So what are some quick lessons from the UFC that you can apply to your membership business? 

  1. Build a culture within your membership program. 
    Your members should buy into your philosophy, your way of doing things.  Your culture and philosophy is what differs you from others. The UFC has many competitors in MMA, but their is only one UFC. Their members know it and want to be part of it.
  2. You have to market to your prospects AND members.
    Many membership programs consider members to be “sold” once they join. That’s just not true. You constantly have to re-sell your members on their membership. You can’t just deliver the benefits you promised. You have to continually re-sell them on their membership and re-teach them the value of what they’re getting.
    You market to your prospects to get a member. You market to your members to KEEP them as members.
  3. You have to constantly improve your membership program.
    Most think that once they have a membership program, the hard work is done – just deliver on what you promised. If you do that, you won’t have a membership business for long.
    You have to continually work, tweak and improve your membership program. Review your member benefits – are they old, out-dated, no longer of value to your members? Are their needs that your members have that you’re not providing for? Are your member benefits in alignment with your member culture?

By the way, the UFC just recently broke all records for their recent event at the Madison Square Gardens in New York City.  They broke the attendance record, record high ticket sales, record high pay per view event.

How did they do this?

The answer lies within the membership program they’ve built!

By the way, if you would like to find out how I can improve your membership program, just shoot me an email at


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About Scott Whitaker

Scott is an expert in creating and building membership programs within businesses, giving greater value to customers and multiplying income. Using his "Seven Systems of a Healthy Membership Program," he will help you get new members, increase retention and structure your membership program for long-term growth.