“We Are All Fighters”: The Transmedia Marketing of Difference in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
This article investigates the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC’s) increasing efforts to market difference (including race, gender, sexuality, and nationality) across its mixed martial arts transmedia empire. More specifically, I examine the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter reality television show as an innovative transmedia marketing strategy to promote diverse fighters and attract fans from previously overlooked audience demographics. The UFC has used numerous methods of transmedia marketing to fold difference into various media ventures over the past several years. I highlight The Ultimate Fighter as an exemplary case study in the development of a “we are all different” discourse in UFC marketing. The UFC’s deployment of reality television to market fighters produces a discourse that ambivalently homogenizes and essentializes difference—a phenomenon that girds gender, race, sexuality, and nationality to affective economies of cultural production.