The UFC has enlisted an unlikely '90s animated duo in its quest to turn Saturday's UFC 200 pay-per-view event into its most popular ever: King of the Hill's Hank Hill and George Liquor from The Ren & Stimpy Show.
The animated characters—from creators Mike Judge and John Kricfalusi, respectively—are part of UFC's first Adult Swim buy. They appeared in a branded content spot Tuesday night on the network to promote Saturday's World Light Heavyweight Championship, a rematch between champion Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.
As part of UFC's ad buy with Adult Swim, three other UFC-related animated spots will air on the network later this year.
In the first spot, Hank Hill and George Liquor guzzle beer and argue over whether Cormier or Jones will win on Saturday. "Either way, it's the ultimate fight of the century," says George.
King of the Hill, which Judge co-created with Greg Daniels, ran for 13 seasons on Fox but now airs nightly on Adult Swim (the UFC video includes a bug promoting that). George Liquor frequently appeared on the '90s Nickelodeon series The Ren & Stimpy Show, which Kricfalusi created.
The spot was the brainchild of UFC president Dana White, who's been a big Adult Swim fan for years. "It ended up becoming pretty much the only channel I watch at night when I'm laying in bed," said White, who noticed that many of the network's commercial pods featured content from the major movie studios that was specifically tailored to the network and its audience.
Intrigued, White began researching the demo—Adult Swim has been No. 1 among 18- to 34-year-olds for the past decade, and White said a large portion of that male audience is African-American—and realized it was an ideal fit for UFC.
"The way the pay-per-view market works for us, we give them a spot and then they circulate it through all the cable channels. But our spots are never on Adult Swim," said White. "Comic-Con is huge, and that demo is a very loyal fan base and hardcore, much like ours. We'd never had a presence on this network that is so strong with this young demographic."
White reached out to Judge about creating an animated short, and Judge tapped friend and fellow UFC fan Kricfalusi. The spots took more than a year to create due to the red tape required to clear the rights to use Hank Hill (which is owned by Fox) and George Liquor, and getting Adult Swim on board. "They're into funky, crazy new shit, and they were so supportive of this thing," said White of the network.
The upcoming UFC spots on Adult Swim won't follow the same format as Tuesday night's. "[Judge and Kricfalusi] are creating new characters for the future ones, which is awesome," said White. He admitted, "This has become an obsession for me. It was very time consuming and very expensive, but here we are."
In the end, "it was worth it," said White. "It's cool; it's different. Nobody's ever done it, and I think that targeted fan base is going to like it."
This is the second animated short UFC commissioned to promote UFC 200. Last week, it partnered with The Chive, who animated this faceoff between Cormier and Jones at a recent press conference: