By Lorenzo Luciano:
At UFC 145 the UFC is planning to sponsor one of the main event’s fighters, that is the light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. The UFC logo will be branded all over Jones and his team.
Many in the MMA world have been critical of the UFC decision to sponsor one of the fighters and that it shows favoritism to Jones.
However in an interview with MMAJunkie.com, Jones’ manager, Malki Kawa insisted that this was not the case.
“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.”
Jones was looking to get sponsored by Nike, but eventually settled on the deal with the UFC.
“Jon went on the record and said he has a vision and a goal of being sponsored by Nike, 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.”
Along with the sponsorship and branding the UFC introduced a Jon Jones related line of clothing.
“We wanted to just stay clean and stay away from any brands that are out there or considered an MMA sponsor, per se, 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.”
“Bottom line is people in this industry don’t always understand what marketing really is, and they don’t understand sponsorships and endorsements and what that really means, Could I have gone out and gotten a deal for this fight for some decent money and put him in a shirt and shorts just to see what happens? Yeah, but what if a company would have said then, ‘Hey, we want to sponsor him, but he’s got all this other stuff.’ We just decided to pass on all that. We just decided to look at what we want to do and try and take it to a different level. “
“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.”
The Jones team is looking for a major deal from a big sports company after an expected April 21st victory against Rashad Evans.
“I can pretty much bank on the fact that with a victory this Saturday, by the end of the year Jon will be sporting a major shoe company’s brand, whether it’s Nike, Under Armor, Reebok or Adidas, one of those four companies will be on Jon Jones. From the conversations I’ve had with numerous different people and things that we have going on on our end, it’s going to happen. Jon’s going to be that guy.”
“It was an idea we came up with that works with what Jon wants to do in terms of his brand and image, we thought the only way to do it was to not get involved with another company at this point. It just kind of worked itself out based on conversations we had in regards to a number of different things.”