When Rory MacDonald squares off against welterweight champion Douglas Lima in Saturday’s Bellator 192 title fight, he will be sporting branded gear from what may seem to be an unlikely sponsor: Dash.
MMA Title Contender Rory MacDonald Lands Dash Sponsorship
However, as his Twitter followers know, the 28-year-old MacDonald has been active in the cryptocurrency scene since 2014, when his coach, Firas Zahabi, first introduced him to bitcoin.
Through Zahabi, MacDonald connected with Dash representatives, and together they drafted a proposal for the cryptocurrency to sponsor him through the network’s budget voting process. Masternode owners overwhelmingly approved the proposal, and MacDonald was paid 320 DASH, worth about $271,000 at the present exchange rate.
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The “Red King” told CCN that he is also a proponent of bitcoin cash, which he favors over bitcoin due to the forked coin’s support for robust on-chain scaling.
“I’m not a big supporter of Bitcoin Core development,” MacDonald said during a phone interview. “I believe that bitcoin cash is making the right decisions and scaling properly toward the original idea of bitcoin.”
‘The Next Wave’ of MMA Sponsorships
MacDonald’s Dash sponsorship is not the first time cryptocurrency and sports have converged. BitPay bankrolled the “Bitcoin Bowl.” Dogecoin sponsored NASCAR driver Josh Wise’s famous “Dogecar” and helped send the Jamaican bobsled team to the 2014 winter Olympics.
But while those were largely one-off events, MacDonald hopes that his sponsorship is just the opening bell of a long-term partnership between Bellator and the cryptocurrency industry.
“The exciting thing about [the Dash budget system] is that it’s a voting process, so we can make all kinds of different, unique ideas to pitch to the network,” he said. “It could be the next wave of sponsorships pouring into the MMA community.”
He added that he had already introduced Bellator president Scott Coker to the Dash representatives who helped him draft his sponsorship proposal.
This crypto-evangelism has already begun to pay dividends. Douglas Lima, MacDonald’s opponent in Saturday’s title bout, told MMAimports that he is researching bitcoin and would consider accepting payment in cryptocurrency.
Additionally Former lightweight champion Michael Chandler, who will also be fighting on the Bellator 192 card, has inked a deal with cryptocurrency exchange startup CoinLion.