Title: 'Ultimate' sponsorship: fan identity, brand congruence, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship

Authors: Michael B. Devlin; Natalie A. Brown; Andrew C. Billings; Stacy Bishop

Addresses: DePaul University, 1 E. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60657, USA ' University of Alabama, 412 Reese Phifer Hall, 901 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, AL 35406, USA ' Department of Telecommunications and Film, University of Alabama, P.O. Box 870152, Reese Phifer 432B, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA ' Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas A&M University – Commerce, P.O. Box 3011, Commerce TX 75428, USA

Abstract: This study examines how one's fan identification to a sport, in this case, mixed martial arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), impacts the evaluations of congruent and incongruent sponsors. An online questionnaire surveyed 911 participants, revealing that highly identified fans evaluated all sponsors of the UFC more favourably than those who were not highly identified. Results also showed that highly identified fans evaluated sport-congruent sponsors more favourably than incongruent sponsors, and less-identified fans evaluated incongruent sponsors more favourably, suggesting that fan identification and sponsor congruency is a critical factor to consider when examining the effectiveness of sport sponsorship.

Keywords: sports sponsorship; fan identity; mixed martial arts; MMA; brand congruency; survey; Ultimate Fighting Championship; UFC; fan identification; sponsor congruency; sport marketing.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2013.060627

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2013 Vol.14 No.1/2/3/4, pp.96 - 115

Available online: 23 Apr 2014 *

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