Social networking has become a massive aspect of the UFC's marketing ritual. With the advent of Twitter and Facebook shrinking the fan/fighter divide to once unheard of levels, the promotion has encouraged their athletes to welcome the sea change and bridge the gap on a more personal stage. At this year's UFC Fighter Summit, Zuffa officials raised that philosophy to new heights, announcing quarterly bonuses for Twitter usage. With the first-quarter test run finally over, the UFC announced the inaugural winners on the Tuesday.
The promotion created three different categories of competition: most followers by division, biggest percentage growth in followers, and most creative tweets. Each winner received a $5,000 bonus.
A quartet of Brazilian fighters swept the 'most followers by division' category. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (@SpiderAnderson) led the charge, alongside fan-favorite Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (@MinotauroMMA), middleweight contender Demian Maia (@demianmaia) and Strikeforce women's champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos (@criscyborg).
The Brazilians also dominated 'biggest percentage growth in followers', with Silva, Nogueira, Maia and Paulo Thiago (@PauloThiagoMMA) picking up bonuses.
Finally, honors for the 'most creative tweets' category went to bantamweight contender Joseph Benavidez (@JoeB135), perennial lightweight underdog Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon), WEC-import Ben Henderson (@SMOOTHone155), and former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin (@ForrestGriffin). Below is a sampling of Griffin's award-winning work.