Greg Jackson Wants to Promote New Mexico Brands via UFC
In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), there is perhaps no better known coach than Greg Jackson. The Business Journals has the scoop on how the native New Mexican is planning to use his clout and experience in global entertainment to give a leg up to some of our local businesses. Jackson has dubbed this new promotion/campaign as the New Mexico Experience (NME). Since he announced the launch of NME this February, it’s already been confirmed that Lobo Athletics of the University of New Mexico (UNM) is one of the brands that Jackson will be taking under his wing. Jackson was in high spirits when he announced the deal with Lobo Athletics. The unveiling even came alongside his teaching some of Lobo’s own coaches a brief lesson in cage fighting. He also served as New Mexico's hype man when they took on San Jose State’s basketball team at Dreamstyle Arena this February! Apart from the Lobos, the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, Organ Mountain Outfitters, and Meow Wolf are some of the other brands that Jackson will be promoting at international MMA conferences. This is all wonderful for the involved businesses, but its also begs the question of which other businesses or brands Jackson is going to pick for NME in the near future. It’s unlikely that the coach will choose any of the local MMA promotions in New Mexico. As much as Jackson and other elite MMA coaches are constantly scouring these promotions for headhunting purposes, he’s already coaching many of the biggest athletes in UFC. These includes former bantamweight champion and Ronda Rousey-slayer Holly Holm, as well as light heavyweight champion Jon Jones – considered by many to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time. While Jackson is all set on the fighter front however, he could choose a brand that can benefit directly from his UFC connections. Enter the Santa Ana Star Casino. Governed by the Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission, this tribal casino now provides limited on-site wagering for sports, which is sort of new for the state. New Mexico is not included in Top US Bets’ list of states where online sports betting is allowed, for now. However, the state’s tribal compact with the 500-strong NM tribe of the Pueblo of Santa Ana allows the Santa Ana Star Casino to conduct sports betting within native territory. With the Pueblo taking the lead in sports-related wagering in the state, it could open the door for MMA wagering involving the UFC, which would likely constitute a fairly large business. This makes the Santa Ana Star Casino a nice fit for Jackson, and just the sort of business to look for as a potential addition to his efforts. A move like that could also allow Jackson to pull UFC promotions closer to his home state – especially given that the organization hasn’t launched any live events in New Mexico in years. The first time a live UFC event happened here was in 2014, a UFC Fight Night which was headlined by Rustam Khabilov and Ben Henderson. Since then, there have been no other live UFC events in New Mexico. In 2016, New Mexico Entertainment recalled how local fans made do by watching UFC 200 live at Lounge 54 - at the Santa Ana Star Casino. No wagering happened then, but with the casino taking the lead in NM sports wagering, fans will no doubt want to start betting on UFC and other MMA promotions’ fights. It's essentially a perfect situation for someone with Jackson's influence and local interests. Here's hoping that's how it happens, and that there are more local businesses and brands to come as Jackson expands his campaign. These would be exciting developments for local fans and the involved businesses alike.