The latest fad in speculative investing is here, and it’s already finding a place in the MMA market. Non-fungible Tokens (or NFTs for short) are essentially claims of rights ownership over digital media and artwork. At the sports level, they’ve become something like digital trading cards.
While people can (and will) reproduce the images, videos, or audio files associated with NFTs, whoever owns the thing itself can claim ownership of said content (although the artist who produced it retains copyright and reproduction rights). Basically, (as far as I can tell) it’s like buying a painting, but instead of the painting sitting on your wall, it sits on someone else’s server.
What exactly the eventual long term value of that kind of digital ownership might be seems more difficult to anticipate in a medium where the essential object can be easily reproduced in its medium. But that hasn’t stopped investors from getting wild in their bidding.
For case in point look no further than newly minted UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Ngannou partnered up with digital artist BossLogic to create a series of 12 NFTs, the highest priced of which sold for $284,000. All told the bidding raised $581,000, which (if the PR firm associated with the blockchain company managing the NFT is to be believed) is more than the $500,000 that Ngannou reportedly earned fighting Stipe Miocic for the belt.
This 1/1 NFT collab between @francis_ngannou and @Bosslogic hit $284k before the auction ended. The total revenue generated from all 4 drops combined for way over half a million dollars.— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) March 30, 2021
That one-off NFT that pulled in $284k did come with a fan package as well, including 2 tickets to the ‘Predator’’s next fight, a pair of autographed gloves and some sand from the sand mine where Ngannou labored as a youth (???). Still the obvious draw here appears to be the future speculative value on these digital assets. 10% of the total proceeds from the auction will reportedly go to Ngannou’s charity efforts as the champ looks to establish mixed martial arts in his birth country of Cameroon.
Although it seems doubtful that Ngannou got the bulk of the proceeds here, given the kind of money involved, it seems like this could be the kind of partnership we see more often as notable fighters in the UFC look to find ways to cash in on their popularity outside of the promotion’s pay scale.