When initially seeing that current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jonny "Bones" Jones would be sponsored by the UFC, I thought it was a non story. Our emails at MMACAGECHATTER.com were inundated with people saying "Jon Jones is cocky, The UFC is showing favoritism to Jones, Jones is in bed with Dana White, Jones sucks and Jones is the poster boy for the UFC"
Whoooaaaa..... Hold on there. Let's look at a few facts. It is common knowledge that we as the human race love to hate. Success also breeds hate. There is a quote out there that says 97% of people are content with what they do/have. It is the 3% that are not content that are the most successful.
In regards to Jon Jones being sponsored by the UFC for the big grudge/title fight he has this weekend at UFC 145 in Atlanta, Georgia, there is a few things to look at here.
Zuffa LLC, (doing business as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)), Dana White, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta have spent millions and millions of dollars building the UFC brand. My first thought when hearing about the UFC sponsorship of Jones was the UFC is testing a business model much like the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB has where their athletes can only wear official gear. This would give the UFC a "cleaner" look because it would not be inundated with millions of logos. Currently at times the athletes of the UFC, the banners etc. look like a jumbled mess. Another thought is the UFC is also exploring a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) model. In conjunction with the above mentioned NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB model the UFC and its roster of fighters come up with clothes designs to market to the masses. For the efforts, hard work and quite frankly popularity, the fighter would get a cut of merchandise sales. Much like the WWE does. The more sales a fighter has the more money they make. This is just another way to get the fighters paid, and make the UFC more revenue.
Jon Jones manager Malki Kawa recently spoke with mmajunkie.com and commented on the UFC sponsorship situation with his client Jones.
Kawa said, "I don't think that anybody is favoring anybody," "They're not that type of guys, at all. It's not like that. My experience with them has been that they're as fair across the board.
"From what I understand, Alistair Overeem is going to be wearing UFC gear, as well. Overeem's manager is Rashad's manager. It's not like Rashad's manager didn't have the opportunity to put Rashad in it. I'm sure if Rashad had wanted to wear UFC gear, they'd have been happy to put him in it, too. It was just our decision to do what we wanted to do."
On the UFC 145 conference call that MMACAGECHATTER.com was apart of last week, Jones did express his desire to land a major sponsor. Jones said his dream is to be sponsored by a company like NIKE.
"Jon went on the record and said he has a vision and a goal of being sponsored by Nike," Kawa said. "So when we were doing our marketing strategy, talking about what route to go, we figured that as opposed to doing something with an MMA sponsor and jeopardizing a potential deal with Nike or Adidas or Reebok or Under Armour, we would pass on the endemic sponsors that are in MMA right now. That was really how it happened.
"The UFC didn't contact us and say, 'Hey, we're interested in putting Jon in our shirts and shorts. Let's get into a bidding war.' That's not what happened. It's nothing like that. It was our decision to not go in with any other sponsors."
By Jones entering into the sponsorship with the UFC, the UFC came out with a line of Jon Jones, themed gear for UFC 145 and possibly beyond. The gear includes, weigh-in shirt, walkout shirt, fight shorts, and corner men shirts. This is mutually beneficial to both Jones and the UFC. Ultimately though it allows Jones, Kawa and company to chase that major sponsor.
Kawa did go on to say, "We wanted to just stay clean and stay away from any brands that are out there or considered an MMA sponsor, per se," Kawa said. "We passed. We were in negotiations with a bunch of companies, and we just decided at the end of the day that the risk was worth the reward. We're real close to getting a deal done with one of the major shoe companies, and we just wanted to continue down that path. That's all.
"It's not like anybody from the UFC came and said, 'Hey, we want to sponsor you.' I just thought it made more sense with certain things we had going on in the business side. This is our marketing strategy and our goals. That's really what it comes down to – nothing more than that."
"You notice Georges St-Pierre came out for a long time in plain shorts and just an Affliction shirt and never really had any sponsors. It was just part of his objective to be sponsored by certain sponsors. We just decided to do our own thing, as well."
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