The Dash Network has sponsored top MMA fighter Rory MacDonald, marking likely the largest cryptocurrency sponsorship of an athlete to date.

Rory MacDonald is one of the world’s top-ranked MMA fighters, currently competing at welterweight under the Bellator promotion. He holds a 19-4 record with wins over top UFC fighters including Demian Maia, Nate Diaz, BJ Penn, and others, including a win over dominant UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. MacDonald put a proposal for funding of a $250,000 sponsorship before the Dash masternode network, which passed 899 Yes/233 No/8 Abstain.

According to MacDonald, his journey to cryptocurrency started with his coach, and he believes we will see significant inroads for Dash and cryptocurrency into the MMA world:

“In 2014 I was introduced to Bitcoin from my coach Firas Zahabi the week I was fighting Tyron Woodley. Since then we have stayed interested in the cryptocurrency space, and it so happened that [Dash’s] Jeff Smith and Firas had connected over doing a project together with Dash. Since then Firas connected me and Jeff. Everything came together very organically as we worked on a proposal for my next fight sponsored by Dash. The community really rallied behind the idea and I believe this is just the start of the Dash takeover into the MMA community for cryptocurrencies.”

Dash’s growing foothold in the MMA world

Firas Zahabi, MacDonald’s coach who initiated him into the cryptocurrency world, believes seeking a Dash sponsorship was a smart move on MacDonald’s part:

“Rory is a wise business man! Digital currency is the way of the future, its value will only continue to rise!”

Zahabi is no stranger to joining together the cryptocurrency and martial arts worlds, having hosted grappling tournaments for cryptocurrency prizes numerous times to deal with local regulatory hurdles. In the lead up to the Mayweather-McGregor fight he offered a $10,000 Dash giveaway to whoever most accurately guessed the time and exact way the fight would finish.

Dash also famously sponsored MMA fighter Davis dos Santos, although this was done through individual donations rather than treasury funds. Zahabi believes that this trend will continue, with more fighters choosing cryptocurrency as a means of payment:

“Yes I do, more and more fighters will want to be paid via cryptocurrency, not only because the value keep rising but also because it is far more efficient than traditional banking.”

Bellator’s CEO Scott Coker is happy about the new partnership, and will investigatve Dash’s possibilities for the company:

“Cryptocurrency has definitely gotten people’s attention as of late and we’re thrilled to see Dash enter the MMA space with their sponsorship of Bellator welterweight Rory MacDonald. Exploring new categories and opportunities for integration has always been key to the growth and development of sports partnerships. We’re always open to new and exciting ideas, and cryptocurrency is something that we’d be interested in exploring to see if it was potentially the right fit for Bellator.”

Dash’s significant treasury allows it to “punch out of its weight class”

Sponsorships like this are made possible due to Dash’s large treasury, which amounts to up to 10% of the new coins produced every month. At present this equals 6,651.85 Dash, or around $7.86 million at present prices. While MacDonald’s sponsorship is a significant amount, it still came in at under 5% of Dash’s total available monthly budget. As the ecosystem matures, a number of large players across several industries could potentially join the Dash network.