There are a ton of companies that sponsor fighters.
So why is it that so many fighters have a hard time getting sponsored?
Well, that won't be a problem for you. Because you're about to discover EXACTLY what sponsors look for.
Do you think you need to be ranked #1 to get noticed by companies that sponsor fighters?
Although winning is important, in this expert roundup you’ll discover that self-promotion, marketing, and reaching out to companies is far more crucial to getting sponsored.
Whether you’re an MMA fan, an amateur fighter, or a seasoned pro, when it comes to sponsorships we all know there’s a huge disconnect between the expectations of fighters and companies that sponsor fighters.
Since the internet is filled with arguments and conflicting information, I created this roundup to give you straight up answers to one of the most important questions often asked by fighters:
“How do I get companies that sponsor fighters to notice me?”
To answer this question, I asked 23 companies that sponsor fighters to reveal what you really need to do to get noticed, by asking them a simple question:
“What are the 3 best things a fighter can do to get your attention?”
As you read their replies you’ll see these key points repeatedly stated:
- Have a large social media fan base
- Engage your fans on social media
- Promote sponsors via social media, word of mouth, and media appearances
- Use your unique personality to market the sponsors’ products to your fans and friends
- Reach out to sponsors
- Be a positive role model and brand ambassador
- Be loyal to a brand
What’s the number one issue you see above?
After reading this article could you start using social media in a way that helps you get sponsored?
This roundup contains specific examples of how to use social media, straight from the companies that sponsor fighters themselves, so you’ll know exactly what they look for.
If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry, it’s actually pretty straightforward as long as you stay focused.
Now, without further ado…
23 companies that sponsor fighters reveal what they look for in you
To get noticed by us, winning your fights is a start but it definitely isn’t everything. We look to sponsor fighters with the following characteristics:
1) You should be exciting to watch. Everyone will remember an action-packed fight. With exciting fights comes enhanced exposure.
2) You should be a spokesperson for companies that sponsor fighters. As a sponsored fighter, you are also assuming the role of a brand ambassador. Prove that you can positively promote a brand by promoting yourself and building a solid following.
3) Be a role model inside and outside of the cage. It’s easy to get behind someone that others look up to. It’s also easy to work with someone who is respectful and humble.
- Justin Haberman, Marketing Manager
We get emails and applications on a daily basis for sponsorship, and our stock reply is “We are not looking for new guys right now”. This is simply because we are stacked with guys. Now and then somebody catches our eye for one reason or another so we give them a package for a year to see how things work out.
A couple of the things we like in a potential sponsee, apart from win, win, win, are a good social media presence and interactivity with the community. This of course helps us keep the brand visible, and the more diverse your social media posts are, the better it is for our brand.
We like super nice guys. Manners are important and being a nice human being is important to us here at Tatami.
We also love guys who are flexible and available. By this I mean if we have a photo or video shoot, we like our guys to be available with some notice. We often have a photo shoot gathering where many of our sponsees meet and have some pics taken but they also get to roll with each other at the same time.
Oh yeah it does help if you are photogenic, like all of our guys.
We always aim to increase our guys’ profiles wherever we can so it’s not just a one way street. If we can get some ad or magazine exposure for our sponsees, then we will. Like I said to begin with though, we have no vacancies right now but big brother is always watching you…just in case.
- Lee Jones, CEO
1) The larger your following is the more assistance you can provide to our brand. So staying active on social media, and growing your followers and video views, can make the difference between getting a sponsorship and not getting one.
2) You must show dedication and interest in the companies that sponsor fighters, even before sponsorship. At Gameness we only sponsor athletes who truly love our brand.
For example: before getting sponsored, if you already train and compete in Gameness as your preferred gear it shows a true commitment to our brand. As a further expansion of this, and our first point, if you document yourself training in Gameness and share it with your followers on social media via photos and videos, it shows your dedication to the brand.
3) Above all else, companies that sponsor fighters want someone with a good heart who will be a positive ambassador for the sport (both on and off the mats). It is important to be gracious in winning and losing.
- Zach Haney, Customer Service Manager and Sponsorship Coordinator
To get our attention, and attention from other companies that sponsor fighters, above all, show that you are a true competitor who takes MMA seriously and that you are striving to do your best. If you are wearing a crown or into other gimmicks that are more suitable to WWF (professional wrestling), I’m not interested. Those kinds of antics cheapen the integrity of the sport.
It’s a definite a plus if you are interested in nutrition and know the difference between our certified organic, Non-GMO supplements and others on the market.
The last thing is: be yourself! Give us a glimpse of who you are on social media because we like to see pics of your pitbull dressed up for Halloween on Instagram, or that gooey protein pancake you made for breakfast. Be yourself and we’ll notice!
- Rhonda Price, Director of Public Relations and Brand Ambassadors
We like to sponsor a fighter based more on his character than his wins and losses. We see our sponsored fighters as an extension of our brand. We have worked very hard over the years to build our brand therefore we hope our fighters portray that through their actions.
Social media is huge for us. When we see you posting about our brand we know we are getting immediate exposure in our niche market. This is of value to us.
Some fighters will throw up one tweet while others throw up 20 on all forms of social media. When these guys come back for round two were are more inclined to sponsor the guy who gave us more exposure.
And finally we sponsor guys who use our soap. Very often when an agent comes to me we offer them a product sponsorship. If they accept it and help us out, we start moving toward the financial sponsorship. If they say "no" we know we don’t want to work with that fighter.
- Guy Sako, Owner
To get noticed by us:
1) You must be in the public eye. You should be contributing to the community and participating with fans. For example, host workshops, meet and greets, and attend community and youth sports events.
2) You need to be an ambassador to the sport. Meaning you should represent yourself, and the companies that sponsor fighters, professionally and with acceptable conduct at all times.
3) You should support companies that sponsor fighters by mentioning their company and products to friends, fans, and media. You should promote your sponsors' brand during appearances, on social media posts, and at additional media outlets.
- Ricardo Holden, Creative Director
1) Our business is directed and operated by MMA and BJJ practitioners/competitors so we always invest in supporting our sport.
We have sponsored fighters based in Spain, Finland and UAE. But we have a very clear policy for sponsored athletes: If you don’t support our shop, we are not interested in sponsoring you. You must like our business, and promote us among you friends, students, training partners etc. We don't care if you’re a world champion several times. If you don't support and help us, you can't be part of our team.
Here’s a clear example of one of our sponsored fighters supporting and promoting us: He was recovering from an injury in a big but regular gym (just weights, no martial arts). In that gym they have Body Combat (an aerobic program from Les Mills) and they simulate fighting drills. Our sponsored fighter convinced the Body Combat instructors to come to our shop and see our range of clothing and gear. Thanks to his initiative we closed a nice deal with the whole gym!
Another one of our athletes manages to sell a lot of our products in his gym, and is always telling his students how good our service is, so he gets a lot of new customers for us.
Really, as one of the companies that sponsor fighters, we just want you to promote our shop and tell all the people around you that we are your sponsor. Tell people what RoninWear is about, so they can try our products.
Of course it’s also good to say our name in every interview, video (YouTube promos for fights for example), or whenever you’re in the spotlight.
2) Another important thing is that we want athletes that are polite and that have a good image for the general public. We don't want street brawlers or athletes that are aggressive outside of the mats/rings.
3) Last, to get our attention, and attention from other companies that sponsor fighters, you have to train hard and make sacrifices to compete just because you love the sport.
One recommendation I have for all fighters who are looking to get in with companies that sponsor fighters: Be a real fan of the company/products you want to get sponsored by. If you love the quality of the products or the service it will be easier for you to promote the sponsor, since you’ll feel that you’re really recommending something useful to your friends and fans.
- Pablo Espejo-Saavedra, CEO
The things we look for in a fighter when we decide to sponsor them are:
1) Ethics and integrity, being a good moral person. We want fighters that make the right decisions inside and outside the cage; fighters who children can look up to.
2) We sponsor a few different ways. We hold seminars, personal appearances, public and private signings, presentations, monetary, gear, donations, etc. When sponsoring a fighter, we enjoy a call, text, Facebook message, or a personal note, just so we know that they are aware of who we are and what we do.
We don’t want to be seen as one of those companies that sponsor fighters who just sends money or gear and they don't even know that we exist until they see their shorts and banner.
3) We want our fighters to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc., to post things that increase the awareness of our company to their fans and followers. We want them to do this on a daily basis, not just the week of the fight.
We enjoy having longer term relationships with fighters and their management teams, instead of just a one off. Fleetwood Mac has a song. In the lyrics they say "Players only love you when they are playing". We try to stay away from that.
We like a relationship where the fighter is even promoting our company months after their fight, not just the week of.
Finally, our business is autographs and memorabilia. So we always negotiate to get autographed items from the fighter and fight worn memorabilia. That way it’s a win-win for us and the fighter. By doing this, we have a good return on investment.
At the end of the day, fans don't really pay attention to the 10 seconds your banner is up with our logo on it, or seeing our logo on your shorts. Fans are watching the fight. So having our logo placed on your banner or shorts doesn’t really help us. It's what you do on social media, that helps grow our business.
- A.J. Hiller, Co-Owner
We've sponsored many fighters over the years (we've been in business since 2006).
Our company generally only sponsors local fighters and fighters that we have developed a relationship with over a period of time.
There are many fighters out there who are very loyal to their sponsors - and there are others who will jump ship in a minute for a few extra bucks. We look for individuals who are loyal, appreciative and hard working. These are the things companies that sponsor fighters are looking for.
For example, we consider you loyal to our brand if you aren’t seeking other "gear" sponsors. If you have a plumbing company or restaurant sponsor that is fine, but it's not fair to be sponsored by Cageside then try to get another gear sponsorship from Gameness.
We know you’re appreciative of our sponsorship if you do things like sending us an email thanking us for the sponsorship.
Another way of showing your appreciation is by posting all over Facebook and social media saying things like, "My new sponsor, Cageside, is the greatest!! Be sure to check out Cageside MMA for all your gear!" We look for fighters who are active on social media in a respectful manner.
To us, “hard working” means you work a regular job and you find the time to train; no excuses! Too many times aspiring fighters think that a sponsor is going to pay all their bills so they can train full time. No one should be training 8-10 hours a day. Unless you are ranked in the top 10 in the world you are probably going to have to work a second job.
When you’re appreciative and loyal to us, we are in turn appreciative and loyal to you. We won’t drop you because you lose a fight, or even 5 in a row.
- Boomer, Owner
We are very selective of who we sponsor. To be completely open, at this time we’re only looking for fighters that can provide our brand a certain level of exposure.
To determine whether a fighter can bring in the amount of the exposure we’re looking for, we check to see if the card is a big event or if the fighter is in the main event. Will the fight be on PPV or Fox? Is the fight/event likely to bring in big ratings? We don’t want to over-saturate the market.
The things you can do to get attention from companies that sponsor fighters, particularly ours (assuming you can bring in the exposure we look for), are things like being very active on social media, representing yourself well, and having a good reputation.
You have to “get” our brand’s humor and be congruent with our brand values. We have to feel you will create exposure for us on your social media. We want a great ambassador for our brand. A good example of a fighter who does all this is Tyron Woodley.
- Ryan Meegan, National Sales Dude
There has always been a fairly large disconnect between what sponsors are looking for and what unsponsored fighters are expecting, so I love that we can provide feedback for this article to help fighters/competitors better understand the sponsorship process
I’d like to preface this by saying that we're not currently sponsoring professional MMA fighters. We have in the past, but our current focus is on Jiu-Jitsu.
Here’s how to gain attention from companies that sponsor fighters:
1) Be in the spotlight (social media, interviews, etc.). You need to have a following that you engage with often to show your sponsor that their products will not only been seen by a lot of people, but also be used because you recommend it.
2) Approach a sponsor and create a relationship with them before asking for anything in return. It shows that you’re truly interested in representing their brand instead of just wanting to know what’s in it for you.
For example, buy something from one of the companies that sponsor fighters, or the apparel brand you'd like to sponsor you, even if it's just a shirt on sale. Contact them saying how much you love their gear, their company, or something along those lines. Take a picture of you wearing the shirt and send it to them or even better post it on social media and tag them. It doesn't take much effort on your end and it shows them that you'll be loyal to the brand and are willing to work hard representing them.
3) Don’t over saturate yourself by promoting too many brands at once. If your fight shorts are covered with more than 5 logos, it’s hard for any of those brands to stand out.
4) Have a good “brand mix” – 1 apparel, 1 supplement, 1 gym, etc.
- Chrissy Biehler, Vice President
It is not enough for a fighter to just win his/her fights anymore. Fighters need to constantly realize that their image goes a long way.
Building up your fan base is crucial, especially when contacting companies that sponsor fighters. Here are my two biggest pieces of advice.
1) Create a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even YouTube page. This will enable you to gain a real following. By constantly posting to these, you will be able to attract sponsors. The bigger following you have, the better it looks to a sponsor.
2) Be willing to prove it. Saying you will do “this and that” is all talk. Offer to buy some gear up front. Say to a potential sponsor, “I want to prove it to you. Let me help. I’ll invest $100 for your gear and if I prove I can get you sales from my following, then sponsor me in my next fight.”
- Daniel Goldberg, CEO and Founder
The 3 most important things that our coaching staff look for when selecting fighters to choose to be part of our team are:
1) You have to be the type of person that is going to gel well with our current team of fighters. I'm sure it's true of all companies that sponsor fighters. It only takes 1 bad apple to change the vibe of the training room. Because we are very selective about this we have a very close group of fighters who are friends in and outside of training.
I am bored of people messaging me and saying something similar to “I want this sponsorship because it will help me blah, blah, blah”. What I really want to hear from you is, “If I am selected I will add this, and this, and this to the team”.
Remember, you convey your personality even through an email. I have interacted with so many people through email first that I can predict how they are going to act in person. So it’s easy for me to weed people out through a mere email.
2) Work Ethic. It’s important that you are self-motivated and have a strong work ethic while being coachable. We are looking for fighters who are looking for excuses to train not looking for excuses to take an afternoon off. Most fighters that we have sponsored were paying students who came in and made huge improvements in a short amount of time by training hard and smart.
3) Social Media. Social Media is very important and perhaps the most neglected part of professional fighters' careers.
When a gym sponsors a fighter what the gym gets back in return is the ability to market that fighter training out of their camp.
If I consider two equal fighters for sponsorship, and the first fighter has a Facebook fan page with xxx amount of fans, twitter with xxx amount of fans, and Instagram with xxx amount of fans, and the second fighter doesn’t use any of these and has little to no fans, the decision is instantly clear; The first fighter is more dedicated to his success and can help market the gym better through his own means, so he is the one that will get the sponsorship.
- Joel Bowen, Managing Director
Three of the top qualities we look for in an athlete looking for a sponsorship are:
1) Someone who has previously purchased/owns and currently uses our products. This allows you to be a true ambassador for companies that sponsor fighters as you have real world unsolicited experience with our equipment.
2) You should have a well put together resume which shows your accomplishments and goals for the future. It should also state what you are looking for from us, and what you can provide us in return. Companies that sponsor fighters need this info.
3) You need a strong social media following and quality interaction. This means having Twitter, a Facebook page, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube channels. Followers are not everything (especially in the age were you can buy 10,000 followers for $5) so we look for people who have a true fan base and someone who interacts with their fans.
- Dan LaSavage, CEO
Sponsorship is like a marketing investment of who we want to represent our brand and values. Our goal in sponsorship is basically to get that kind of positive exposure. It helps if you’re timely in communication, up front, and commit to what we’re looking for.
By “positive exposure” I mean displaying good sportsmanship, giving great fight performances, having win streaks, good public relations, and most importantly; brand loyalty. Believing in the POSS brand is important. We love to have fighters that win in style and be our brand ambassadors.
When you’re loyal to our brand, it means we get to work long term and amicably. Wearing our gear when we ask you to is good, but wearing it day after day, posting lots of random personal photos with our brand, and not wearing competing brands is even better.
You can even go the extra mile on your own by doing things like using our logo as your Facebook Cover, or commenting/liking/sharing our posts.
Even small gestures can show brand loyalty to companies that sponsor fighters. We've heard of, and had, countless fighters that don't follow through. They wear our gear for a fight, but before and after the fight, they don’t promote our gear at all.
Whether it's giving gear and/or cash, sponsoring a fighter is an investment for us. If we don't like our return on investment, we won't sponsor that fighter again.
An example of a fighter that does everything right is Conor McGregor. If you check out his social media, you’ll see him wearing only Dethrone. He doesn’t wear brands that belong to competitors of Dethrone. So when you think of Conor McGregor, you think “Dethrone” instantly; they are strongly related. He'd be a great example for most companies that sponsor fighters.
Of course this is most effective and works as leverage if you have a large social media fan base. Another way that works well is to provide us with quality marketing content (photos, videos, etc.) that associates you with our brand. Here’s a few ways to do that:
1) Create a FB Page/Twitter and start inviting/following everyone you know that's in the sport.
2) Post more quality marketing content. For example, post content that shows your values and beliefs (your training, time spent with family and friends, helping others, eating healthy, etc.). Keep in mind, selfies with your 6 pack abs does not count, at least not to us.
If you need ideas, study all the athletes active on social media. The first one that comes to my mind is Ruben “Cobrinha” Charles. Every one of his posts is low key, helpful, and very cool. I've met the guy and all his posts represents a bit of who he is, while wearing Storm Kimonos.
3) Most importantly, pick up more fights and wins.
The more you have of all the above, the more you're worth sponsoring.
- Cordon Lam, Marketing Director
I get so many emails asking to be a Team Lana Athlete whether it’s fighters, boxers, bodybuilders, bikini or figure girls but only 1 out of 50 requests will be submitted in the correct format.
I’d like to help make sure you submit your request properly, so here’s my advice when contacting companies that sponsor fighters: Always include your full name and your fight name, so the prospective sponsor can Google you. I don't want to ask you these questions. There’s no need to go back and forth on 3 - 4 emails. I am busy. Tell me your record in the initial request, and always include a photo and a video. Put your videos on YouTube.
It’s important to tell the person you are writing to a little about yourself. Make it short. If you are married, describe your wife and child. If you have a full time job, include that and where you grew up. I wanna know your roots.
Get me curious; give me something to think about. For example, saying something along the lines of, “I come from hard times and I will never look back. Fighting is my life. I have the will of a lion." You love God? Tell me. If you have don’t have a religion, leave it out.
If you see me other companies that sponsor fighters at a fight or event, approach at a polite time. Have some cards made up. Put your photo on the card. That might put you one step ahead of the cat that I am going to forget by morning.
Make your physical introduction strong. Don't shake my hand like a fish because I am a girl. I am Italian. My father taught me how to shake hands when I was 3. Shake my hand and look me in the eyes.
Say, “Hi, I like your company; I eat your egg whites (do not say this if you don't eat them) I would love to be a Team Lana Athlete. Look for me at my next fight, (specify the date), and remember my name. I’m Frankie from the Bronx." and hand me a card. Do you see what I'm saying? This is yourbusiness! Your brand! Sell yourself. You!
And please be smart. I really don't want to go to your page and see the word that rhymes with “puck” every other word, or a big naked booty downgrading women. Uhh, no, I will pass. I do not want you on my team.
I was raised in an Italian famiglia; we cuss, but we know when and where. Social media is not the place for being vulgar. It’s time to grow up. Do you wanna work or not? Do you want kids to look up to you? Do you want to get noticed by companies that sponsor fighters?
I am looking to create a family; An army of soldiers that take care of each other when the fight is over.
You gotta have heart; in and out of the ring.
- Lana Dora Battagello, Owner
Here’s how you can get noticed by us:
1) Be a fighter in every aspect of your life. As a company contributing valuable funds to a fighter's future potential, we need to know that you are serious about your professional success. You have to be intent on making a positive impact on society and representing our product.
The relationship between companies that sponsor fighters, professional fighters and consumers is a symbiotic one. We provide you with funds and support so you can compete at the highest levels without distraction. You, the fighter/competitor, excel at your craft and provide entertainment for the consumer, and you represent our brand in a relevant way.
We provide the consumer with a product that satisfies a need and sponsor fighters who will represent our vision best.
As fighter, it’s your responsibility within a sponsorship agreement to represent the brand in the best way you can whenever you can within the guidelines of the agreement. This means representing the brand publicly by wearing our apparel or discussing the product's features and benefits at key times (after a fight, during press conferences, when approached by the media, on social media channels, at seminars, etc.).
2) Companies that sponsor fighters want you to know business and marketing fundamentals. You can find a tough fight in a lot of places, but if you want to be a professional tough guy you must understand how a company or product fits into your lifestyle and translates to your fans.
Social media is the language, understand it and represent your sponsor as honestly as you can whenever you can. Go above and beyond, we will notice your hard work.
Every sponsorship agreement is different and represents the needs of the fighter and the companies that sponsor fighters, so deliverables like number of social media posts should be outlined.
To companies that sponsor fighters, such as ourselves, it's always impressive to see a fighter go out of their way to represent us in a positive light or create content, like a quick Instagram video about how the product helped them get through a tough workout while preparing for a big fight.
Preston Parsons impressed us during his first professional fight at House of Fame "A New Dawn" in Jacksonville, Florida when he won the fight with a 54 second arm-bar then immediately put on our Fighter Energy hat for his post-fight interview. He then worked with us on a recap video of the fight and announcement of his next fight for the World No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu tournament in LA. He placed 8th in the world at age 19, he represents the Fighter Energy brand well.
3) Be the best at what you do. We are here to provide you with support, monetary or otherwise, to free your mind from the distraction of the daily grind. Treat every day as a unique opportunity to become the absolute pinnacle of your craft. Excellence is the mission.
- Brian Smith, President
Machina is a women’s brand of boxing gear, so we only sponsor female fighters. We currently sponsor a range of athletes from amateur fighters who are just getting started to top ranked professional fighters.
Machina is all about establishing relationships with athletes. It’s important for prospective sponsored fighters to understand that, currently, Machina is still a small business and therefore not able to finance their careers.
Instead, we can help you stay outfitted and help promote your events and fights. In return we only ask that you show off our gear and recommend our brand to other women who train to fight.
We’re less interested in your record than we are in your enthusiasm for your sport and your interest to work with a brand that is exclusively for women. We try to support women’s boxing (and other combat sports) in every way we can and we like to see women supporting other female fighters.
Another quality we look for in an athlete is dedication; someone who is training regularly and works hard in the gym. A record of winning fights is an obvious way to demonstrate your dedication and hard work, but it isn’t the only way.
We always like to see athletes who are involved in their community, studying for a career, active on social media, training other fighters, etc.
Companies that sponsor fighters want someone respectable.
In the end, it’s less about athletic achievements for us and more about overall energy and commitment. Machina is a small, independent brand (not one of the large companies that sponsor fighters) so it is crucial for us to have good people saying good things about us.
- Austin Saylor, Co-Founder
We always look for two major items in a sponsorship candidate and the rest lies in expectations from both sides.
First, how much exposure we will get from specific performances (regional or national TV, online, international broadcast, etc.). Secondly, how much exposure we will get day-to-day (social media, at other events, photos, etc.).
We prefer long-term relationships and creating partnerships with our athletes so that their name will become synonymous with the Intimidation brand.
When we can tie in the amount of exposure you’ll get, and set reasonable expectations for our company and you, we feel like this is the recipe for a long-lasting, win-win partnership.
That's true of many companies that sponsor fighters.
One example of what has worked well for the Intimidation brand is fighters wearing the brand to events they do not fight at or where teammates participate.
Another example is fighters providing social media shout-outs and photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram repping our brand. Yet another example is when a fighter wears our clothing during non-fighting activities, like when going to the gym, in casual life, etc.
One specific fighter we sponsor is featherweight Kyle "Kyote" Rozewski, currently training and competing in China, who is making sure to frequently wear our brand in training and fights while overseas. Rozewski was also a key player in getting our brand into the Buffalo/Western New York market (where he is from) helping open doors at gyms and with MMA influencers in the region.
Another, Brian "The Predator" Rogers is a Bellator MMA middleweight who is also a "Menswear Fashionista" with a major sponsor who outfits him with suits, jackets, etc. Brian is often seen at events for Bellator, Spike, etc. with his Intimidation lapel pin on his suit to further hammer home his long-time sponsor's logo (us).
- Luke M. Jernigan, President & CEO
MMA is a sport where everyone loses eventually, even the best. I'm never upset if a fighter I sponsor loses. The most memorable fighters aren't necessarily the ones that win but the ones that fought their ass off. That's #1 on my list.
It never hurts to have some personality to go with heart. To get attention from companies that sponsor fighters, like ours, you should be a fighter people want to root for and follow. We want a guy that can put their opponent to sleep in the ring, and get people excited during an interview. We like fighters who show some personality without spouting the standard clichés; show some confidence and bad ass-ness like Paul "Semtex" Daley does.
Maybe sprinkle in your sense of humor or something creative, perhaps in how you walk out to the ring like Brad Pickett with his trilby hat and newspaper.
Or like Filthy Tom Lawler with who knows what.
A guy like Conor McGregor is a perfect example of someone people want to see fight not only because he can whoop ass but because he's just a neato guy. That's why a show like The Ultimate Fighter and behind the scenes HBO shows became popular; you get to know what the athletes are really like and when you find someone interesting or likeable in some way you invest more into them as a fan.
A sponsor wants to be associated with an athlete the fans really dig. All that said, you don't want to force it. Be yourself; the way you carry yourself needs to come off honestly for the fans to buy into you/us.
Companies that sponsor fighters want you to shout them out on your social media and in interviews. After a victory a sponsor always loves to hear his name, especially on television.
On social media, don't go too nuts and annoy people with 100 tweets a day; that can often have a reverse effect, but it's always nice to have fighters proud to rep the brand and to get the word out. You can do this just by posting photos of yourself in gear, tagging a potential sponsor in posts, retweeting a sponsors tweets etc. Easy peasy.
That's how to get noticed by companies that sponsor fighters.
- David DiCenzo, Guv'nor
The 3 best ways a fighter can get our attention, and attention from other companies that sponsor fighters, are:
1) Use our products before contacting us for sponsorship. We worked with Johny Hendricks and Team Takedown MMA for about 1 year in evaluating various versions of our technology before any type of sponsorship or formal relationship.
If you contact companies that sponsor fighters, like us, with interest in using our product then we will usually send you some samples to try but how can someone represent our product without any experience with it?
2) You should contact us directly, or at least someone from your coaching staff. I do not pay much attention to inquiries from "sponsor reps" that are simply playing dialing for dollars, and want to negotiate a sponsorship when you (the fighter) may not even know about our technology.
3) Be a professional in and out of the cage or ring. I am not impressed with fighters that are trash talkers or that use a lot of vulgar language especially during interviews. I want to be involved with fighters that handle their business with their skills not their mouth.
Companies that sponsor fighters, especially myself, would rather sponsor a fighter based on his/her character rather than a win-loss record. Fighters that are humble in victory and defeat and that give tribute to their coaching staff for their contributions illustrate their character.
- Gary Rayburn, CEO
The best way to get attention from companies that sponsor fighters, particularly ours, is to be a self-promoter. It's great to attend events and wear the product but our main goal for sponsorships is to organically grow the visibility of our brand among fighters and fans of the MMA sport. We look for fighters that creatively spread the word through social media, wearing the product, and talking about it in a natural way.
Support the brand and we will return the favor. In an industry where big brands dish out thousands for their logo to be seen on TV, we pride ourselves on being a big brand with a small team and grassroots marketing budget.
We have built our brand through attending local events (Oregon Subleague, Revolution Tournament) and supporting local fighters in the Northwest Area. Other companies that sponsor fighters do similar things. When fighters support our brand by buying a $20 tee at an event or online we pay attention and always return the favor through social media mentions or extra gear for supporting us.
For example, we have an 18 year old fighter from Portland that always stops by our booth and picks up a shirt or two. Over the years he has accumulated a big collection of VXRSI. He also voluntarily shows support for the brand on social media. Even though he doesn't have a lot of followers or isn't competing on TV that is the type of support we look for when it comes to deciding who to sponsor.
That's what companies that sponsor fighters are looking for.
Approach deals with companies that sponsor fighters as a mutually beneficial partnership, and not just an opportunity to get free gear. Often times we get many inquiries asking us to send free clothes in exchange for wearing it at events or taking pics for social media.
We look for fans that are loyal to our brand and will want to wear our product not because it is free it they are paid to do so, but because they genuinely respect and want to support the brand.
- Rex Korrell, Marketing Director
*Declined website and social media links
I am not looking for exposure as I am a referral-only business. I just want to give my two-cents because I spend too much time replying to inquiries on Facebook. I’m hoping my feedback helps fighters and managers understand the mouthguard industry better.
Companies that sponsor fighters, such as ours, get requests for sponsorships and most people do not understand that the mouthguard business does not yield enough profits to warrant monetary sponsorships. It is why you do not see any companies like Shock Doctor or dentists in the cage for this type of product.
Product sponsorships, or discounted partial sponsorships, are the only means for it to work unless there is some other value added service that can be exchanged.
Plain and simple, the only way to get attention from companies that sponsor fighters like mouthguard companies is to work on your visibility and marketability. Winning does help but building your brand along the way is a must. If you are starting out, it is best to target local sponsors because they will be able to possibly benefit.
Do not try to get a sponsor who has high-end clients and is located too far away from you. Always keep in mind that a sponsor has to somehow benefit from your brand in order to provide a sponsorship.
- Elmer Tolentino, Co-Founder
Alright, let's recap and give you some action steps for getting in good with companies that sponsor fighters
Across the board the sponsors have said they want you to have a large, engaged, social media fan base. They want you to promote their products/brand with your unique personality. Each of them want you to reach out, be loyal, and become an ambassador for their brand.
Use what you’ve learned here to create a plan, before contacting a sponsor. If you reach out to companies that sponsor fighters without everything in place, your result will be a lot of burned bridges, and frustration.
Here's how to avoid blazing bridges and furrowed brows:
Action steps to get noticed by companies that sponsor fighters:
- Identify and define your unique traits
- Grow your social media fan base and engage your fans in conversation
- Promote the products of companies that sponsor fighters (these ones you want to get sponsored by)
- Reach out to sponsors
These steps work wonders. If you always work on the most important things first, it’s crazy how simple (not easy) this is, yet few fighters or competitors do it.
Just last week, a reader of mine sent me a message saying that he followed these steps and got his first BJJ sponsorship.
Need more help? Here are several bonuses to guide you along.
You now know exactly what companies that sponsor fighters are looking for and have actions steps to follow. I want you to use what you've learned in this roundup to get sponsored.
But to help even more, I’m giving you several bonus resources.
First, you'll get my 10-part Firestarter Sponsorship course delivered to your inbox for free. A $297 value! You'll get access to:
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Second, is a guide that will improve your fan engagement by 38%. Use this to keep your fans interested in what you have to say.
Third, initial impressions are everything. So I’ve created a template that will help you craft an amazing intro speech. Perfect for “wowing” sponsors the first time you interact.
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