Flagship Group Solutions, a distributor of IBM, and the Professional Fighters League (PFL) entered into a deal to allow the league to use IBM Watson technology to measure real-time performance analytics. The new deal between the league and the IBM’s business partner is recognition for mixed martial arts (MMA) as a mainstream sport.
IBM Machine Learning for SmartCage
Under the terms of the deal, IBM machine learning will be added to the PFL’s fighter tracking platform, SmartCage, to improve data collection. The platform tracks real-time metrics for the fighters through sensors placed inside the octagon and displays them on-screen during live PFL broadcasts.
The insights known as Cagenomics, which are also shared at the league’s OTT platform, Fight Central, currently cover punch speed and fighter tracking, but the league is planning to include kick speed and heart rate in 2021.
“…it provides a more immersive experience for fans while watching the fights. Two, it adds an element of context and storytelling. From an engagement standpoint, it’s absolutely driving conversation and engagement, the ability to truly see what the fighter is enduring, what the fighter is going through.”Peter Murray, CEO, PFL
Besides the recognition that MMA is a mainstream sport, the league is also the fastest growing sport in the world having in excess of 450 million fans across the globe, Murray further outlined. Its sponsorship portfolio has Anheuser-Busch, Geico, Rich Energy and Acronis, with a partnership in the sports betting space coming down the pipeline before the end of the year, CEO Murray added, pointing the need for the league to leverage its data and enhance gaming experience and prop bets.
PFL Seeks to Stand Out from the UFC
IBM’s technology addition to Fight Central will help it see its OTT platform go live, offering broader combat content for fans across the globe. The PFL is seen as year-round content company, rather than a live events business, PFL CEO Murray noted, hoping for the league to evolve into a media company to help the league distinguish from other MMA properties such as the UFC.
“There’s no fun in creating a copycat product… This sport is yet to reach its peak, we’re playing a role growing it, and scaling the PFL league around the world. We’re leading with innovation because the sport is deserving of that, the athletes are deserving of that, and fans today in sport expect it.”Peter Murray, CEO, PFL
The latest deal with Flagship Group Solutions materialized the efforts of the league to add technology at the heart of its offering. Launched two years ago, the PFL is seeking to introduce innovation in MMA through its format which includes fights across a regular season, playoffs and championship.