Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is already gripped by UFC fever. Mixed martial arts originated here, so the game is already in the locals’ blood, but the city is also hotly anticipating its latest up-close glimpse of the Octagon on May 11 when Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade battle it out in UFC: 237.
Anyone walking through the streets of Rio over the coming weeks should also keep their eyes peeled for some vivid UFC-themed poker art works. These brilliant murals are not only spectacular in their own right, they also hold the key to an unprecedented giveaway.
PokerStars, the UFC’s official poker partner, has its hands on tickets to ringside seats for the bout at the Jeunesse Arena, as well as exclusive passes to the weigh-in, and other special activities, ,where you can hob-nob with UFC royalty.
It’s an extraordinary prize for an extraordinary competition — and it all starts with the art.
HUNT THE FIGHT CARDS
Rio de Janeiro is a world-renowned destination for anyone with a passion for architecture, beaches, music, food, drink and parties (ie, everyone), and in recent years it has also developed a reputation as one of the global capitals for street art.
The likes of Marcelo Ment, Carlos Bobi, Cazé and Lidia Viber started their careers with spray-can or marker pen in hand, decorating empty wall spaces across the urban landscape. As their work grew in depth and range, they began to gain global notice, and Rio’s street art became one of the most thrilling cultural movements of recent years.
It has now even infiltrated high-end galleries, with connoisseurs and collectors flocking to Rio to see the work of these trailblazers in its natural environment.
With the UFC coming to town, and PokerStars keen to tap in to the excitement of the movement, the company recently approached four of the city’s most celebrated artists with an idea for a unique commission. The brief was for each artist to produce a depiction of an MMA fighter from UFC 237 in their trademark style, and to place it on the background of two PokerStars playing cards.
The four artists represent a broad range of the art scene in Rio, each with a well-earned prominence in their field. They were encouraged to create a beautiful and eclectic range of portraits that capture the fighters in a unique way.
All the aforementioned artists — four of the best known in the city — accepted and got to work in their studios through the past several weeks. Now, these completed “Fight Cards” have been placed strategically in four locations across Rio de Janeiro, and the challenge for eagle-eyed UFC fans is to hunt them down.
The rules are simple: once you find one of the Fight Cards, pose for a photograph alongside it, share the picture on social media with the hashtag #UFCPokerStars, and then hope for the best. There are two packages to be won, for the winner and guests, with the lucky UFC fans selected at random from qualifying entries.
All entrants will be asked for their Stars ID in order to qualify for the draw.
Although it’s worth finding all of them, you only need a photo alongside any one of them to qualify. You have until 23:59 on May 7 to get involved.
The project is to demonstrate the power of a partnership between the UFC and PokerStars, Poker and MMA are disciplines that reward those that come best prepared, they are about style, patience and timing – they are more aligned than most people might realise and this is something that this project is designed to show.
“It has been a really fantastic project to work on, and to be part of the celebration of PokerStars and UFC here in my hometown is an honour,” said Ment, who has spearheaded the Rio street art scene. “I hope that the people of Rio enjoy seeing UFC fighters captured in true Brazilian street art style.”
Additionally, a unique “Sand Sculpture” of the Fight Cards, created by the world-renowned Rogean Rodrigues, also appeared on Copacabana beach on April 29. Rodrigues, who is a massive UFC fan, has previously been commissioned to welcome such luminaries as Pope Francis to Rio, and he was the obvious man to turn to to showcase his talents again. The sculptures wowed the crowds in Copacabana as the promotion kicked off. And although a thunderstorm was approaching, the Fight Cards won out and will remain in the sunshine this week.
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