WASHINGTON – The Marine Corps has ended its sponsorship of the Ultimate Fighting Championship just months after members of Congress pushed to end all military sports sponsorships and a veterans group urged the Marine Corps to reconsider its ties to the mixed martial arts organization.
The contract with UFC expired Nov. 30 and the money was assigned elsewhere, said Maj. John Caldwell, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
“Due to evolving mission requirements, budgetary constraints, marketing analysis and the recommendation of our contracted advertising agency, resources previously allocated to the endeavor have been applied to alternate priorities,” he said.
Even as the Marine Corps shrinks, recruiters are working to expand advertising and engagement in communities to recruit a more diverse and representative group of Marines, particularly officers, he said.
“The Marine Corps continues to stress strong personal values in markets that are viewed by young men and women who are interested in military service,” Caldwell said.
The veterans committee of UNITE HERE, a union that represents 250,000 hotel, food service, restaurant, textile, industrial laundry and gaming industry workers, said values were the heart of their argument against the partnership between the Marine Corps and UFC.
“The UFC is an organization that has tolerated people associated with it making jokes about rape, homophobic slurs and sexually explicit remarks that are demeaning towards women,” the group wrote in a July letter to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos.
“We believe these statements are deeply at odds with the culture, mission and values of the Marine Corps, and the values of the people you are trying to recruit.”
Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, in June led an effort to ban military sponsorships of pro sports. The measure failed, but the Army announced it would end its sponsorship of a NASCAR team.
UFC officials did not respond to a request for comment.