The University of Iowa Athletics Department and its multimedia rightsholder, LEARFIELD’s Hawkeye Sports Properties, announced that UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, will serve as a proud sponsor of the men’s and women’s wrestling programs.
This marks the first college sports sponsorship for UFC, which chose Iowa for its longtime tradition of wrestling excellence within the men’s program and for support of the university’s newest intercollegiate program, women’s wrestling. Iowa is the first NCAA Division I Power Five institution to offer the sport, as announced Sept. 23, 2021, with Clarissa Chun serving as the team’s first head coach.
UFC’s sponsorship encompasses signage inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, as well as exposure during the wrestling radio broadcasts and visibility on Iowa Hawkeyes’ official social platforms.
“The partnership between Iowa wrestling and UFC is a perfect fit. We both celebrate tough, physical athletes who compete at the highest level,” said Iowa men’s wrestling head coach Tom Brands. “There is a bridge between wrestlers and fighters across the two sports. With this agreement, it is even more significant.”
The legacy and tradition of the Iowa men’s wrestling program is undeniable, which was a key driver for UFC’s sponsorship. Season tickets for the 2022-23 Hawkeye wrestling season sold out for the second-consecutive year, and the team returns six past All-Americans on the roster. The Hawkeyes have led the nation in attendance in every season since 2006-07 – Tom Brands’ first as head coach – including setting an NCAA record in 2021-22, with an average of 14,905 fans.
“We’re proud to support the Iowa Hawkeyes men’s and women’s wrestling programs,” said Lawrence Epstein, UFC Chief Operating Officer. “Many of the best UFC athletes were skilled and experienced collegiate wrestlers. Wrestling provides an excellent foundation of athleticism, discipline, determination, and respect that is needed to have a successful MMA career. We’re looking forward to seeing the Hawkeyes continue their tradition of excellence and sportsmanship and compete for NCAA championships for many years to come”
“It is significant that UFC selected Iowa and its wrestling programs for a first-of-its-kind sponsorship, and we’re extremely appreciative of that support,” said Chun, whose team begins competing in 2023-24. “Our athletes, and theirs, have a shared bond of training and competing at an elite level.”