Kristian Stengel ‘21 journeyed back to Houston recently to attend UFC 271, a pay-per-view event for his employer, Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Living full-time in Las Vegas and working for UFC, Stengel enjoys frequent travel to different fight events to see his partnerships and sponsorship activations come to life.
“I attend every single event because UFC has partners at every event. It’s important for our partners and prospects alike to witness UFC firsthand,” Stengel said. “One of the things I love to point out to partners, once the fight starts, I challenge our partners to look into the crowd and find me anyone on their cellphone. You can’t find a single person.”
On the day to day, and leading up to the biggest UFC events, Stengel works hard on logistics, making sure that every visiting client is taken care of and that all the tickets are sold. One of his favorite parts of the job is getting to spend time with the clients to insure that they are enjoying the hospitality at the event.
While this is Stengel’s first year in a full-time role with UFC, he previously interned with the organization as a Rice student in Summer 2019. Back then, he was hired by the Vice President of Global Partnerships and Business Operations.
“The knowledge, experience, and skills that I was able to develop as an undergrad at Rice through the Sport Management Department played a key role,” Stengel said. “When you’re doing a Rice internship, you’re tasked with very real work. Every time you work an event, you become more comfortable doing it. Through the Sport Management major and the work I’ve been doing, it has helped me become very comfortable in these situations, and honestly, it’s a blast.”
UFC 271 also gave some of Stengel’s long-time supporters the opportunity to see him in action. Peter Townley ‘24 has known and looked up to Stengel for five years. Stengel’s previous UFC internship, along with UFC 271, inspired Peter to follow in his footsteps.
“I’ve never really interacted with my friends in a legitimate professional capacity and it puts into perspective how accomplished and talented every Rice student is,” Townley said. “This was my first experience with UFC, and I associate it with just pure intensity and excitement that can’t be replicated by any other sport.”
Dr. Clark Haptonstall, a former professor and mentor of Stengel’s, also made the trip to UFC 271 to support Stengel.
“It was great seeing him in action at the event,” Haptonstall said. “Kristian is completely in his element with UFC. Watching him interact with partners while also making sure that all activations are in place showed me that he is where he needs to be.”
Jen Spell, a senior from Birmingham, Alabama, is double-majoring in Sport Management and Kinesiology.