MFC-Tapout Energy sign sponsorship deal

August 21, 2011

The MFC announced a sponsorship deal with Tapout Energy drinks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed although the MFC indicated that Tapout Energy would be prominently displayed during its next event October 7th.

Via Mike Whitman at Sherdog.com:

“The MFC has always taken great pride in being an organization that thrives on the support of its outstanding corporate partners,” said MFC owner Mark Pavelich in the official release. “Tapout Energy coming on board with the MFC is unquestionably one of the proudest moments in the history of this company.”

Payout Perspective:

The UFC is not the only MMA organization tha has corporate sponsors. The signing of Canadian energy drink Tapout Energy is good support for one of the better organizations in Canada. Earlier this year, Good 4 U drinks entered into a sponsorship agreement with the MFC. For Tapout, its a good way to market its product to its likely target demo of young males 18-34. Out of curiosity, if anyone has had a Tapout Energy, let us know what you think of it.

UFC 133: Payout Perspective

August 8, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we look at the much-maligned UFC 133 event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the main event, Rashad Evans took out Tito Ortiz to cement his spot as the number one contender in the Light Heavyweight division.

Evans knees Ortiz for win

Rashad Evans looked phenomenal and displayed no signs of rust after a 14 month layoff. Tito Ortiz looked good too but Evans was too much for Tito and a knee to the chest ended Tito’s night.  This was a fight that no one really lost. Evans secured his title shot and Ortiz spun his loss as “taking one for the team.”

Belfort takes care of Akiyama

Vitor Belfort made quick work of Yoshihiro Akiyama as he knocked out Akiyama in the first round. An impressive showing coming off of being KO’d by Anderson Silva. Interesting the finish came when Akiyama attempted and missed a front kick similar to that of Silva.

Ebersole KO’s Hallman and speedo

While most thought that Brian Ebersole’s “harrow” would be the quirky story of this match, it was Dennis Hallman wearing a speedo that convinced Dana White to award Ebersol a special KO bonus as well as banning all speedos from UFC competition. When I saw Hallman’s short shorts I immediately thought of what boxer Bernard Hopkins was thinking. As some may know, BHop used to hate MMA until the pubicity came to Philadelphia. He did get off one of the best takes about the sport on the Jim Rome show when he said he would lose to any MMA guy since he had notfought like that since “he was in prison or a kid.”

Ebersole received a “special” bonus as a result of his KO. For better or worse, the short shorts received mainstream notoriety from Deadspin and ESPN’s Page 2 created a list of “Worst Looks in Sports History” in honor of Hallman’s shorts.

Attendance and gate

11,583 were in attendance for a gate of $1.5 million according to MMA Junkie. The number of complimentary tickets were not provided. In comparison, 2009’s UFC 101 was a sellout with 17,411 in attendance for a gate of $3.55 million. The event, held in the same building as UFC 133, featured Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports the following bonuses for UFC 133. There were no submissions, so no submissions of the night were awarded. However, White awarded Ebersole a $70,000 bonus for getting Hallman’s speedos off of PPV. Other $70,000 award winners included:

Fight of the Night – Evans vs. Ortiz

KO of the Night – Vito Belfort

PR for UFC 133

Rashad Evans workouts were featured on Yahoo! Sports. Evans and NFLers Maurice Jones-Drew and Larry Fitzgerald were featured in a weekly series on elite athlete workouts.

Many Philadelphia celebrities were in attendance including Charles Barkley and Bernard Hopkins. Interesting that Hopkins was in attendance considering that he had bad mouthed MMA for some time.

White and Ortiz appeared on the Jim Rome Show. Similar to NASCAR, the Rome show has embraced  the sport by having UFC fighters on as well as talking about it on his show.

White gave away tickets for UFC 133 through its #Hunt4UFC twitter contest where White sent out tweets to locations of where to go if fans wanted free tickets.

Sponsorships

SafeAuto Insurance sponsored its usual band of UFC fighters as well as a  contest, “VIP at the UFC.” The brand activation integrated social media into its fan contest. When fans “liked” the SafeAuto Facebook page and filled out a contest form they had the opportunity to win a trip to UFC 133.

Tapout had a similar contest for UFC 133 in which followers either liked the Tapout Facebook page and tweet out “#TapoutTickets” in order to qualify. The winner was announced during the appearance of Skyscrape and Punkass on The MMA Hour last Monday.

According to Bloody Elbow, Rory MacDonald’s fight banner never made it behind him before introductions. A faux pas if you want to keep sponsors. Here it is:

Training Mask made a big splash with the sponsorship of many of the fighters on the card including Rashad Evans. And, it also sponsored the front of Hallman’s shorts. Training Mask put out what seemed to be a tongue in cheek tweet about its sponsorship of Hallman stating that it has no control of what its fighters wear.

Middle Easy sponsored Brian Ebersole. It was interesting to note that at the end of the fight, Joe Rogan referred to Ebersole’s “Bloody Elbow” after pummeling Dennis Hallman. Coincidence?

The fighter fashions are detailed in this post. Notably, Evans sported a white Jaco track suit top with a subtle Jaco logo. Yet, he wore a Tapout shirt post-fight. Nam Phan wore a gi that he took off in the entryway so that his t-shirt sponsor, Throwdown, got the visibility during the walkout.

Conan 3D had the fighter checkpoint sponsorship. Fortunately, no interview with its star this time around.

Harley Davidson, Dodge, Gamefly.com, Xyience, Edge, Boost Mobile and Bud Light had the center of the ring.

Post-UFC 133 Headlines

Evans vs. Jones/Rampage Super Bowl Weekend 2012.  Book it. Nobody get hurt.

Rory MacDonald. Probably the most impressive young fighter out there. It will be interesting to see what fights are ahead of the Canadian.

Tito Ortiz. Although he lost, he put on a good fight and it didn’t look like he was mailing it in. He’s regained respect with the UFC and will likely have a fight or two left with the company.

Despite many alterations to the card, UFC 133 had some entertaining, albeit short fights. If you wanted to see knockouts, UFC 133 gave it to you.

Odds and ends:

Did Shane Victorino help promote UFC 133 by starting a bench-clearing brawl Friday night?

Does everyone have Beats by Dre headphones that Evans wore at weigh-ins and walkout?

Joe Rogan mentioned Diamond MMA, a company specializing in compression shorts that hold cups in place to prevent groin shots, during the fights giving the company some good publicity.

The main card fights ended with almost an hour to spare. This happens when there are 4 KOs during the PPV. This was a night with lots of filler fights. It was a good chance to show the Facebook fights live.

Ochocinco signs TapouT deal

June 15, 2011

MMA Mania reports that NFL star Chad Ochocinco has signed a deal with Tapout to sport its mouthguards and wristbands. The deal is a part of Tapout’s expansion outside MMA.

Via Tapout press release (h/t MMA Mania):

“Ochocinco is the perfect athlete to represent the TapouT brand and its energy and intensity,” said Chris Circo, CEO of Battle Sports Science. “Fans absolutely adore Chad’s rule-breaking enthusiasm and passionate devotion to sports. This is evident in the relationship he maintains with his over 2 million Twitter followers.”

Produced by Battle Sports Science, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, the TapouT Mouthguard is an innovative mouth protection system so advanced that it rivals the safety and performance of custom-molded
mouthguards that cost hundreds of dollars – yet the TapouT Mouthguard is available for a fraction of the cost.

Not only will Ochocinco be protecting his mouth in style with the mouthguard, he’ll also be sporting the new
TapouT RealG Bands and the TapouT RealG Sweatbands. The bands provide unmatched durability and style
with real magnetic technology embedded in a dual layer medical grade silicone.

The mouthguard will be based on the former Chad Johnson’s gold grill.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see how successful Tapout’s venture outside of MMA will be. As SB Nation reports, it has produced a documentary on the late Evan Tanner which will make its premiere this weekend at the LA Film Festival. A return to television could be next. Ochocinco becomes the first “big name” sports star outside of MMA to represent TapouT. This can only help the brand seek inroads into the NFL and other professional sports. With a huge twitter following, Ochocinco can reach more people than TapouT could with an ad. A positive mention of TapouT to his fans on Twitter would reach more people than if TapouT stayed within its core MMA audience.

For Ochocinco, the deal fits within his own brand and image. He is one of the more outspoken personalities in the NFL. And if a strike is avoided, he will be sporting a gold TapouT mouthpiece  that will be captured by a national audience each Sunday.

Authentic Brands Group Announces SVP Media and Entertainment

May 18, 2011

NEW YORK, May 18th, 2011 – New York based intellectual property company Authentic Brands Group has named Mike Straka senior vice president of media and entertainment to head up strategic content initiatives for brands including TapouT, TapouT MPS, Silver Star, Iron Star, Sinister, Hitman Fight Gear and Marilyn Monroe.

“Straka’s expertise in multimedia will help grow our content offerings and distribution across all of our brands on multiple platforms,” said Jamie Salter, chairman and CEO, ABG. “His demonstrated body of work in MMA has made him one of the most respected broadcast journalists in mixed martial arts today. We are looking forward to having Mike Straka represent our brands in all forms of media and entertainment.”

“Mike has been a huge supporter of MMA and TapouT throughout the years,” said Dan “Punkass” Caldwell, president and co-founder of TapouT. “We are excited to have him on our team and look forward to collaborating with him as we continue to be the leading MMA apparel and lifestyle brand.”

A former vice president and executive producer at FOX News Digital, Straka brings nearly twenty years of major media experience to ABG and will be responsible for building strategic media partner- ships for ABG brands, and head up content channels that will serve to make Tapout.com, TapouT Radio and ABG’s partners the premier destinations for mixed martial arts news and entertainment coverage.

“This is a dream job for me,” said Straka. “MMA is my passion and TapouT is the leading brand in MMA lifestyle and entertainment. To be a part of the vision set upon by the late Mask and his partners Punkass and Skyskrape more than ten years ago is an honor. Authentic Brands Group is a company that cultivates the type of entrepreneurial spirit and environment that I thrive in, and I’m up for the challenge.”

In addition, Straka will represent ABG and TapouT on all forms of media, analyzing fight cards, break- ing UFC® news and interviewing the fighters.

While at FOX Straka was responsible for video operations, vendor relations and online programming, and he was the host and executive producer of “Fox Fight Game,” one of the first weekly MMA pro- grams dating back to UFC 32.

Most recently, Straka was the host of “Fighting Words with Mike Straka” on HDNet, a one-on-one interview program featuring the biggest names in MMA, including UFC president Dana White and a rare interview with UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, as well as dozens of sit-downs with the world’s greatest MMA fighters.

UFC 128: Payout Perspective

March 22, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. This time we look at UFC 128 held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The show was topped by Jon Jones stopping Mauricio Rua to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title.

Jones fights crime, beats Rua

To top off being a favorite , fighting close to his hometown and having his own Spike TV special prior to challenging for the Light Heavyweight crown, Jon Jones helped stop a burglar just hours before the fight.  Although he looked nervous and Rua looked calm, Jones destroyed Rua  to win the belt. Rua looked slow and out of shape, but perhaps that was a testament to the speed and skill of Jones.

For Jones, a matchup with Rashad Evans is next although it may happen late 2011 as it is reported that Jones may have broken a bone in his hand. Thus, Evans will not have fought in the UFC since May 2010.

Faber kisses Rosie, survives to win in UFC debut

Urijah Faber defeated Eddie Wineland and will face Dominick Cruz next. Wineland did well for himself as he stuffed several takedown attempts at the outset, but Faber eventually solved Wineland. After the fight, Faber gave a rather mechanic call out to Cruz.  Perhaps the venom will step up if they become opposing TUF coaches. Whenever the fight happens, it should be a great fight.

I think that the UFC should have Faber-Cruz coach TUF as this can help gain more exposure to the lighter divisions. Plus, it should elevate Faber’s presence to the mainstream. I think Faber (and Jose Aldo) are the two fighters that can give the lighter weight divisions a boost in giving them respect and more visibility on UFC cards.

Not able boos for “The California Kid” coming out to 2Pac/Dre. I guess the East Coast-West Coast rap battle is still alive. And yes, that was Rosie O’Donnell that he kissed walking to the ring. I liked Rosie better when she was a VH1 DJ.

Bonuses

MMA Junkie reports the bonuses for 128.

Brendan Schaub and Erik Koch earned $75K apiece for their KOs and Edson Barboza and Anthony Njokuani earned $75K each for their Fight of the Night on Spike TV. There were no fights ending in submissions so that can explain the double KO bonus.

Attendance and Gate

MMA Junkie reports that 12,619 fans attended UFC 128 for a gate of $2.14 million. The numbers were not as good as GSP-Hardy and did not draw as many fans as Bisping-Evans. In fact, UFC 128 had a slightly better gate than UFC 78. It is likely that Jones will draw much better in the future.

Via MMA Junkie:

  1. UFC 111 (St-Pierre vs. Hardy): $4,000,000 gate (17,000 attendance)*
  2. UFC 128 (Jones vs. Rua): $2,140,000 (12,619)*
  3. UFC 78 (Bisping vs. Evans): $2,100,000 (14,071)*
  4. UFC 53 (Arlovski vs. Eilers): $1,100,000 (12,000)*

Ratings

UPDATED 3/22/11 – MMAPayout confirmed today with SpikeTV the ratings for the UFC Prelims. UFC 128 Prelims earned a .85 household rating, a .92 in Men 18-49, a 1.03 in Men 18-34, and an average audience of 1.3 million viewers. According to MMA Junkie, the ratings show a strong increase from the UFC 127 Prelims on ION.

The lead-up shows for UFC 128 included the usual Countdown show and a special for Jon Jones, “In the Moment.” The Jones pre-event show did better than the Countdown show. It did very well considering it went up against NCAA Tournament games. It will be interesting to see how he GSP-Shields Primetime series will do in comparison.

Sponsorship Watch

MMAPayout Emiritus Kelsey Philpott was on hand and tweeted about the scene outside the arena pre-UFC 128 where the UFC held a Tailgate Party. This was a great way for sponsors to get out in front of its audience. Tapout and Xyience were among the sponsors outside interacting with fans.  The newest product out there for the MMA fan:  Tapout energy bands.

Sponsors in the Octagon included Harley Davidson, BSN, BoostMobile, Xyience, Affliction, Tapout , Toyo Tires and Bud Light had the center of the Octagon.

The UFCStore.com was actively involved in the PPV as it sponsored the tale of the tape and also ran an ad during the first round of the Jones/Rua fight which I thought was a little annoying.

Jon Jones had Iron Bridge Tools as a fight sponsor on the back of his shorts. According to my count, this is the second time that a challenger has won the UFC title with a tool sponsor on the back of his shorts as Cain Velasquez wore a Milwaukee Tools logo when he beat Brock Lesnar. I don’t think Gray Maynard or Vito Belfort had a tool sponsor on the back of their shorts. Are you listening Jake Shields?

Big night for sponsor Form Athletics as Jon Jones and Urijah Faber won their fights.

Public Relations for 128

The UFC was all over the NY/NJ area promoting UFC 128. Details on some of its appearances are here. Aside from promoting 128, the UFC made an effort to promote the legalization of the sport in New York. Notably, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta appeared on a NY public affairs program to discuss the fight for legalization.

Aside from local media, notable print media stories included Jon Jones in WSJ which asked whether Jones would be the breakthrough star the UFC (and MMA) needs.

Jones appeared on a local morning show in NY where he was asked to display what he does in the Octagon.

UFC Fighter Jon ‘Bones’ Jones: MyFoxNY.com

I think Middle Easy explains my sentiments.

Via Middle Easy:

Hopefully in 2012, we can collectively agree that any form of media asking a fighter to place them in a rear-naked choke needs to come to an end. Actually, that’s not entirely fair. Let’s make a rule that if you ask a fighter to place you in a rear-naked choke, you can’t tap out. The blood running through your neck will have to come to a complete halt and your unconscious body will need to collapse to the floor in order to realize how much of an idiot you were for asking someone to choke you out.

Trending during 128

Twitter was abuzz Saturday night as #ufc128 #Crocop #Schaub #Miller and #Faber were all trending. I’m sure Jones was trending as well although I did not check after the fights.

Odds and Ends

  • MMA is great because it’s the only sport where one of its champs seconds a fighter as Frankie Edgar did at the weigh-ins for Ricardo Almeida
  • The Miller Brothers fought back to back and went 1 and 1.
  • Jon Jones gave a shout out to his after-party during his post-fight interview, a taboo in the UFC. But, Jones quickly amended his announcement to say it was for charity. Perhaps the champ was taking liberties with his newfound position.
  • While there are many MMA fans that loathe the comparisons to pro wrestling, “USA, USA” chants broke out during the main event. The last time I heard that I think The Iron Shiek was wrestling Sargent Slaughter.
  • If Herb Dean did not stop the Jones-Rua fight, Rua was tapping.
  • Faber received his Brown Belt in BJJ after the Wineland match. Not as dramatic as when Randy Couture received his Black Belt for choking out James Toney or when Frank Mir received his after breaking Tim Sylvia’s arm.

TapouT sponsors race car at Nascar’s Nationwide series

March 6, 2011

MMA clothing brand TapouT unveiled its sponsored race car at NASCAR’s Nationwide Series on Saturday. The TapouT Chevrolet placed 12th in its first ever race.

Via MMA Junkie:

In February, MMA clothing manufacturer TapouT announced it was branching out from its core audience with a multi-year partnership with racing team Kevin Harvick Inc.

“I expect NASCAR and MMA fans to be in a bit of shock – in a good way,” TapouT exec Tim “Skyskrape” Katz stated in the original announcement. “TapouT has never ventured outside of MMA like this, but seeing how the fans love both sports, I think they will be the real winners here.

Payout Perspective:

An interesting partnership considering the TapouT merger last year as well as the sponsors choice to diversify with sponsorship in another sport. Similar to MMA, NASCAR has shown the potential for long-term growth. It would be interesting to see the research performed in deciding this sponsorship. Based on TapouT’s investment in NASCAR, it tells us that MMA fans are big into NASCAR as well.

Former Tapout Employee Receives $3.2M Jury Award

January 26, 2011

Following up on my earlier post, Former TapouT Employee’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Set for Trial in January – Claims Against Kreiner Dismissed, according to the Beverley Hills Courier, the former employee, Michelle Thomas “was today awarded $2.4 million in punitive damages by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury.”

According to the article, “[t]he panel deliberated for about a half-hour before finding in favor of Michelle Thomas in her wrongful termination case. The same panel on Monday awarded her $840,000 in compensatory damages, bringing her total award to more than $3.2 million.”

Consistent with the allegations in the complaint, the article provides that Thomas testified “that employees were told to pay out of their own pocket for any television subscriptions needed to view the company’s show on the Versus cable network, called ‘TapouT,’ as well as pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts.”

Justin Klein is an attorney at Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry.  He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website.  He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training.  Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.

DISCLAIMER

The information in this post and on my site consists of my opinion only, i.e., it is not the opinion of my employer or anybody else. In addition, and because this is my opinion, it is not intended to be (and is not) legal advice or an advertisement for legal services. This post provides general information only. Although I encourage interested parties to contact me on the subjects discussed in the articles, the reader should not consider information on this site to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship.  I disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post. Any e-mail sent to me will not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not use this site or my site to send me e-mail containing confidential or sensitive information.

MusclePharm Raises $1.4 Million

January 8, 2011

In December, nutritional supplement company, MusclePharm, raised $1.4 million through convertible promissory notes and a registration agreement with accredited investors.

“We are very pleased with the successful completion of the agreement with the investor and believe this capital will support our capital requirements for growth,” commented Brad Pyatt, MusclePharm’s Chief Executive Officer. “We appreciate our investor’s confidence in MusclePharm as we continue to execute our long-term growth strategy.”

 

This capital raise, combined with the previously released fulfillment agreement with IVitals, further enhances the Company’s overall financial strength for future long-term profitable growth. Management will continue to focus on the development, sales & marketing of MusclePharm’s growing portfolio of nutritional supplement products.

Payout Perspective:

It was announced last month that nutritional supplement company, MusclePharm, owed Zuffa approximately $375,000 in over-due sponsorship fees accrued over the course of a year-long agreement between the two companies starting in January. This outstanding debt was subsequently sold by Zuffa to a collection agency in the Fall.

Many were surprised to see the brand return to the Octagon in January. The WEC deal had expired and Zuffa didn’t appear to have any outstanding obligations to the company. Why would it do business with a company that had already failed to pay its debts? The answer is ostensibly because MusclePharm was able to raise new capital in December to fund new marketing efforts and recommit to sponsoring UFC fighters (including the payment of the UFC “sponsor tax”).

MusclPharm’s new apparel partnership with Tapout is encouraging. It’s a textbook case of two brands working together to better leverage the sponsorship of a property and increase value. This is something that’s going to hit across multiple sponsorship objectives such as awareness, interest, intent to purchase, favorable attitudes towards the brand, and increased sales.

However, I remain skeptical that the company can turn things around.  The company sponsors a lot of fighters and that’s a good thing, but if it blows through its working capital again, then it’s likely to leave a lot of people in the lurch. Here’s a glimpse of its liquidity and capital resources as of November 15th’s Q10 (emphasis mine):

Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

Our primary source of operating cash has been through the sale of equity and through the issuance of convertible secured promissory notes and other short term debt as discussed below.

 

At September 30, 2010, the Company had cash of $10,657 and a working capital deficit of $2,578,866, compared to overdrawn bank accounts of $17,841 and a working capital deficit of $1,223,074 at December 31, 2009. The working capital deficit increase of $1,355,792 is primarily attributed to the operating losses incurred for the nine months ended September 30, 2010.

 

Cash used in operating activities was $2.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2010, as compared to cash used in operating activities of $0.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2009. The increase in cash used in operating activities for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 compared to the nine months ended September 30, 2009 was primarily the result of the net operating loss net of non-cash expenses, for the current nine month period.

 

Cash used in investing activities was $30,395 for the nine months ended September 30, 2010, as compared to cash used in investing activities of $5,510 for the nine months ended September 30, 2009. The increase in cash used in investing activities represents purchases of various fixed assets. We also maintain a website http://www.musclepharm.com), designed for customers and investors. Future investments in equipment and other fixed assets, as well as further development of our Internet presence will largely depend on available capital resources.

Note: I pointed out last week that Tapout has been much less consistent on the activation front in the last six months (due, in part, to what I believe to be the ABG acquisition and likely marketing strategy reformulation). However, the partnership is something I also believe needs to be recognized; more sponsoring brands need to co-promote, because its an innovative way of pooling resources, leveraging a sponsorship, and creating value that might not always be present with stand alone activation strategies. Kudos.

Silver Star President Talks ABG Deal

September 7, 2010

The fastest growing sport in the world just got put on an even faster track to mainstream awareness and one step closer to Madison Ave’s biggest dollars after one of the biggest brand licensing companies have jumped directly into the deep end of the mixed martial arts’ pool.

Authentic Brands Group LLC, a company with a giant global footprint in the worlds of apparel, consumer electronics and action sports has today announced the acquisition of TapouT, TapouT MPS, Silver Star Casting Company, Iron Star and Hitman Fight Gear to it’s portfolio, which also includes the Bob Marley Brands, among dozens of others.

In today’s press release, Authentic Brands Group’s Chairman & CEO Jamie Salter said, “This sport is still in its infancy. We strategically chose these acquisitions as our first big move because we’re getting into the right business at the right time. We’re looking forward to working with the best brands and the best athletes in the world as we transition these two companies into global lifestyle brands with our retail and licensing partners.”

In his first interview since the announcement, Silver Star president and founder Luke Burrett tells me the deal took about nine months to close, and it’s going to be mean big things for MMA fans.

“Authentic Brands Group is a brand development and licensing company. In conjunction with Leonard Green & Partners, our mandate is to acquire, manage and build long-term value in prominent consumer brands,” says Burrett, who will maintain his title for the Silver Star and Iron Star brands.

He said ABG’s overall strategy for the brands is to become a full licensing model.

“The beauty of a full licensing model from the consumer standpoint is that the products get better – at least it will with us because our internal mandate is to work with the best in class licensees,” said Burrett. “Its a simple formula really, the best brands work with the best licensees and best retailers. Plus, we have rigorous rules and regulations for our licensees – we literally approve every single product, ad, you name it. Because of this strategy, each partner gets to do what they do best, and we can focus on what we do best – and that’s marketing and building a brand.

That means TapouT’s Punkass and Skyskrape, along with Luke’s wife, Charis Burrett, will continue to be mainstays on the MMA scene, although today’s press release makes no mention of TapouT chairman Marc Kreinert.

Burrett says the acquisition of his company has always been part of his and wife Charis’ strategy.

“In business, every company reaches a point where they need to make the best decision for the company,” he said. “Charis and I have put many years into Silver Star and still have a lot of passion for the brand! ABG is the right partner and we look forward to a great future. This acquisition will strengthen every facet of Silver Star, not just MMA, so we look to our partnership with ABG to take the company to the next level in all of areas,” he said.

Silver Star sponsors UFC Middleweight champ Anderson Silva and fan favorite Clay Guida, and has had deals in place at one time or another with the likes of Georges St. Pierre and Jon Bones Jones.

The buzz about the ABG acquisitions, which may include more brands in the near future (think Sinister), was loud at last month’s UFC Fan Expo, where guys like Burrett, Skrape and Punkass were noticeably more relaxed than usual, with representatives from ABG doing most of the heavy lifting this time around.

“Since we are now going into a licensing model, I will have more time to work with our athletes and the marketing direction of the brand,” he said.

Toronto Company buys TapouT, Silver Star and Hitman

September 6, 2010

MMA Weekly reports that TapouT, Silver Star Casting Co. and Hitman Fight Gear have been sold to businessman Jamie Salter.

The MMA clothing brands will be merged under Salter’s Toronto-based Authentic Brands Group, LLC.

From Bloomberg:

Salter’s Toronto-based Authentic Brands Group LLC is betting the three labels — TapouT, Silver Star Casting Co. and Hitman Fight Gear — are ripe for expansion as mixed martial arts tightens its grip on the mainstream. J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp. and Macy’s Inc. already sell some of the gear, and the new owners and founders are looking to add sales both at home and overseas.

“These are some of the most exciting brands I’ve seen in years,” Salter said in a telephone interview. “The popularity of mixed martial arts and the UFC is soaring around the world. The last time I saw a sport with this much potential was 20 years ago with snowboarding.”

Salter wouldn’t say how much his firm paid for the brands.

Payout Perspective:

This purchase shakes up the MMA merchandise market as this merges TapouT with two of its competitors. According to the Bloomberg article, TapouT President Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Tim “SkySkrape” Katz will be joined by Silver Star’s Luke Burrett.

The acquisition shows the growth of the MMA market and this marks the further expansion of the brands into mainstream awareness. What will be interesting in the coming days will be the organizational leadership of the new company. What changes will be made to the brands? Will Caldwell and Katz be able to work with Burrett and vice versa? What affect will the merged companies have on the identity of the individual brands?  We will have more on this later this week.

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