Bud Light to return as the UFC's official beer next year as it recovers from a conservative backlash

NEW YORK (AP) — Bud Light is set to return as the official beer of the UFC in the U.S. next year as the brand tries to recover from a conservative backlash to a promotion with a transgender influencer.

Under a new multiyear marketing deal between the promoter of mixed martial arts fights and Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch, the brewer will become the UFC's “Official Beer Partner” in the U.S. starting Jan. 1, the two companies announced.

Outside the U.S., AB InBev, the parent of Anheuser-Busch, will be UFC's official global partner.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed — but, citing a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that the global agreement marks the UFC's largest sponsorship ever, surpassing a $175 million fight-kit deal signed with Crypto.com back in 2021.

A UFC spokesperson declined to comment on the financial terms of the partnership. Anheuser-Busch did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

This isn't the first time the UFC and the beer brand have paired up. Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light were UFC’s original beer sponsors more than 15 years ago, UFC CEO Dana White said in a Tuesday statement — adding that he feels UFC, Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light “are very aligned when it comes to our core values.”

News of the partnership comes during a rocky year for Anheuser-Busch. The brewer has seen a monthslong sales decline for Bud Light after conservative critics vowed to boycott the brand for sending a commemorative can to transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney earlier this year. Bud Light has also faced backlash from Mulvaney’s supporters and LGBTQ+ rights groups, who say the company didn’t do enough to support her.

In June, Bud Light lost its place as America’s best-selling beer after more than two decades, slipping into second place behind Mexican lager Modelo Especial. InBev also owns Modelo, but in the U.S. the brand is imported and sold by Constellation Brands.

As Bud Light sales plunged, Anheuser-Busch InBev reported a 10.5% fall in U.S. revenue for this year's second quarter. Meanwhile, overall its revenue rose 7.2%, to $15.1 billion, from the same period a year ago — as global brands such as Stella Artois and Corona made up for the loss in Bud Light sales.