It can be hard for you to get the attention of MMA sponsors.
Obviously, winning is great, but aside from that, what else can you do?
To get a definitive answer, I contacted 68 popular MMA fighters and figures and asked them:
“Other than winning fights, what are the 3 best things you can do to get noticed by MMA sponsors?”
This roundup is a shit-ton of awesomeness. Use the tips in this article, then start building your fan base and you, my dear friend, will become the apex predator!
Since there are so many names, I created a clickable index in the following section, and sorted it alphabetically. Which makes it easy for you to jump to your favorite fighter like a quick-draw McGraw, or scroll down and take it all in.
Now then…LET’S DO THIS!
How To Get Noticed By MMA Sponsors
Jens “Lil’ Evil” Pulver is a retired American mixed martial artist, former UFC Lightweight Champion, and undefeated boxer and kickboxer. Jens is also a great friend of MMA Futures and the Mentor to our Grey Hats. Jens can be found on MMA Futures, and on Twitter.
To get noticed by MMA sponsors, you have to stand out in the cage, for example Anthony Pettis.
You also need to stand out when out of the cage, for example Dan Hardy’s red mohawk.
You also need strong social media skills, for example Felice Herrig.
Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks is an American mixed martial artist and an accomplished former collegiate wrestler. He is the current UFC Welterweight Champion. Johny can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
If you want to get MMA sponsors you need to:
Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson is a Swedish mixed martial artist. He is currently signed with the UFC, fighting in their light heavyweight division. As of September 10th, 2014, he is the #1 contender in official UFC light heavyweight rankings. Alexander can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
To get noticed by MMA sponsors you need to:
1. Perform and win your fights in an impressive manner.
2. Give proper interviews and understand the value of marketing.
3. Do a good job with current sponsors, and represent their brand so well that other sponsors notice and want to have you associated with their brand.
I would say the most important thing is to build a foundation for your career. Have patience, work hard, and surround yourself with good people.
Understand that there are no shortcuts in this business. Even if you promote yourself hard and make it work briefly, it’s not gonna last and stay there if there’s no foundation.
Creating relationships between you and your fan base, and having your companies and potential sponsors, involved with it is very important.
Your reputation is really all you have, and winning and conducting yourself properly will create a reputation for you, and keep it interesting to sponsors.
Diego “The Dream” Sanchez is an American mixed martial artist currently competing in the Lightweight division of the UFC. Sanchez has been involved in more “Fight of the Year” bouts than any other fighter in mixed martial arts. Diego can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
To get noticed by MMA sponsors you need to win excitingly, have genuine personality, and charisma.
And of course all sponsors want something that says wow so good looks help.
You need to win, talk trash, and get caught saving a drowning puppy’s life in the ocean.
Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson is an English mixed martial artist currently competing in the Lightweight division of the UFC. He is most notable as the Lightweight division winner of The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom and as one of the head coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. Ross can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
To get noticed by MMA Sponsors you need to fight hard, stay focused, and swing big.
Aside from winning, I’m still trying to figure that (how to get attention from sponsors) one out myself. I guess fight and win would be the first 2.
Be in big fights on PPV, on Fox TV, and have a big following.
You must be active on social media.
Simple. Beat the busta’s ass and do it in style.
Use social media to promote your sponsor.
Give good interviews that people remember, and mention your sponsors in the interview. But not like “I wanna thank my sponsors…” More like this post.
It’s funny and people notice it.
Don’t get me wrong though, the reality is I wish I accomplished half of what the Hammer has throughout his career. Half and I’d be a legend or what Eva, you know what I mean. I’m a future legend with the ladies in Tokyo and I’ll leave it at that.
Also, after you win you get maybe 2 minutes of mic time. You got to get noticed and put a stamp on your victory so that’s a huge and a great moment. If you’re wearing your sponsors t-shirt or whatever, say something memorable to get yourself and sponsors noticed. Just not directly like “I wanna thank so and so.”
Like when I fought Shamrock I said, “You’re looking scrawny ya pencil neck. You should get on some MET-Rx.” I was sponsored by MET-Rx.
Also, when sponsored by TrimSpa I had 2 hot TrimSpa chicks walk me out. That’s all that needed to be done. TrimSpa was definitely noticed, and no “thank you’s” were needed in a post-fight interview.
Roy “Big Country” Nelson is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He won Season 10 of Spike TV‘s The Ultimate Fighter. Roy can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
The best thing you can do to get sponsors is to show them why people love you and what you stand for.
You should show integrity, loyalty, and strength, which is what my sponsor’s Fear The Fighter and Lunarpages look for.
Rick “The Horror” Story is an American mixed martial artist currently signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and is a member of the United States National Guard. Rick can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
It depends on what level you’re at. Easiest I guess would be to surround yourself with people who have the connections you’re looking for.
Next, obviously, is to be tough as hell and win fights. Knockouts turn heads (No pun intended).
Lastly, be someone people want to put their name on. Different personalities are more marketable, but the same goes for image as well.
Be a total package including image, ability to speak, and ability to fight.
These seem to be common sense but maybe not. This, I believe, goes for all sponsorship’s though.
Personality is a must. Next is being exciting in fights and looking for the finish.
Toughness and heart are also important; you can’t give up when it gets hard.
Win fights, win fights and win fights!
Nothing can be done to get sponsor attention. Nobody sponsors fighters anymore.
1. Win fights and belts, be the best fighter around.
2. Know how to communicate with the media and fans.
3. Be loyal to your fans, have as much fans as you can, because the sponsors want to communicate with your fans.
Ben “Killa B” Saunders is an American mixed martial artist who currently fights in the Welterweight division of the UFC. He was a featured fighter on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra. Ben can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
Sponsors usually look for:
1. You need to be a good and skilled fighter
2. You need to be exciting and try to build a fan base.
3. Try to fight on TV 🙂
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson is an American semi-retired mixed martial artist. Stevenson rose to prominence by becoming The Ultimate Fighter 2 Welterweight Tournament Winner. Joe can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
Winning fights is number one.
A marketable personality is number two.
And finally, finishing fights is number three.
All of them are important to get noticed by sponsors.
First, fight hard for the fans, always pressure your opponent, and give the fans what they want to see. If your fighting style is spectacular people appreciate it and start to talk about you. Sponsors know this and will start contacting you.
Be active in social networks. Fans worldwide want to know more of your life outside of fighting. This is important to branding you.
Having good management is important, and so is having a good public image.
Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino is an American mixed martial artist. He is currently competing in the lightweight division for Bellator MMA, and owns Pellegrino Mixed Martial Arts Academy. Kurt can be found on Twitter.
The best way to get MMA sponsors to notice you? That’s easy. Just keep winning and you will have the world.
Nate “Rock” Quarry” is a retired American mixed martial arts fighter who is most notable for his appearance in The Ultimate Fighter, as well as co-hosting the show MMA Uncensored Live. Nate can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
Getting MMA sponsors is done by being an exciting fighter, having a personality, and having a gimmick.
Finish your fights to get noticed by MMA sponsors.
Sponsors look for two specific things: TV exposure, and representing their brand.
Eddie Alvarez is an American mixed martial artist. Alvarez is the two-time and former Bellator Lightweight Champion. He currently competes in the UFC. Eddie can be found via his Ealverezfight app, and on Twitter.
If you want MMA sponsors it’s all about attention, attention, attention. The more you get of it, the more sponsors notice you.
Knockouts, exciting fights, and title wins will get you that attention.
John “The Hitman” Hathaway is an English mixed martial artist competing in the welterweight division of the UFC. John can be found on Twitter.
Win fights, have confidence, and work your abs. That’s what gets sponsors to notice you.
The big belly has a niche market and Roy Nelson has it all wrapped up already.
2. Be Charismatic (like Chael Sonnen).
3. Represent yourself as you would want someone else to represent you.
Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis is an American mixed martial artist currently competing in the Welterweight division of Bellator. He was also a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 2. Marcus can be found at Team Irish, and on Twitter.
I think that if you can show a high level of activity on social media, and a high hit rate on your personal website, you’ll show companies that you are someone they should sponsor.
Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron is a retired American mixed martial artist. Hieron was the final IFL Welterweight Champion, competing for the Los Angeles Anacondas. Jay can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
You will get noticed by MMA sponsors when you:
1. Keep winning.
2. Have good management.
Georgi “Insane” Karakhanyan is an Armenian mixed martial artist who competes in the featherweight division. He is the former World Series of Fighting Featherweight Champion. Georgi can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
Destroy every single opponent!!! That’s how you get noticed by MMA sponsors!
Management, management, management. For example, SuckerPunch Entertainment.
Have a signature personality, and fighting style, to get noticed by MMA sponsors.
Mario Yamasaki is a Brazilian mixed martial arts referee licensed in many states, most recognizable from his duties with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as well as founder and chief instructor of the Yamasaki Academy in the USA. Mario can be found on Twitter.
If you want attention from MMA sponsors you have to:
1. Win fights.
2. Be on pay per view.
3. Be a good role model.
Jorge “El Conquistador” Rivera is a retired American mixed martial artist who competed in the Middleweight division, and was featured on The Ultimate Fighter 4. Jorge can be found at the Rivera Athletic Center, and on Twitter.
Your management should be responsible for getting sponsors for the team.
Other than simply winning fights to get noticed by sponsors, one of the best ways would be interacting with fans on social media. If you build your social media fan base the sponsors will see that.
Also, staying out of trouble in the media and with the law is important to sponsors. Pretty much being a good role model to others.
And third, having good management can help develop good contacts with potential sponsors.
Here’s my advice:
1. Be professional. Meaning, if you say you’re going to do something for said sponsor ( DO IT)!
2. Do social media! I’ve gotten several different sponsors because I’m very vocal on social media.
3. Be YOU! People can tell when you are not being genuine. Play up things that are unique about you.
If you want MMA sponsors to notice you, get a lot of KO’s, date a porn star, or be Kimbo Slice and fight a lot of street fighters who suck.
To get sponsors just finish fights violently.
Win, win decisively, and be exciting.
Winning a world title obviously helps too.
James “Lightning” Wilks is a retired English professional mixed martial artist. He was the winner of Spike TV‘s The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom. James can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
Win, win in style, win by KO or submission, and sponsor’s will notice you.
Gerald “Hurricane” Harris is a retired American mixed martial artist and stand-up comedian, who formerly fought in the World Series of Fighting‘s Welterweight division. He was a cast member of Spike TV‘s The Ultimate Fighter 7. Gerald can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
The best way to get MMA sponsors is to win fights.
All you have to do to get sponsors is win, win, win.
1. Win fights.
2. Be an exciting fighter.
3. Be a role model.
Besides fighting I’m also a business graduate and entrepreneur so I’ve really taken this style of approach in finding sponsors and it’s worked out incredibly.
In my career I’ve contracted at least $50,000 or more in sponsorship’s and I’ve never been in the UFC or any major promotion.
The idea is to offer value to the sponsors rather than expecting anything for nothing. We have to offer an equal value in promotion and exposure for their business.
It’s true some sponsors just want to help but when potential sponsors see you promoting the hell out of a current sponsor they’re more likely to jump in on it.
The next thing would be to be grateful for anything at all. If they offer $10 or $1000 the gratitude should be the same. Small sponsors are sometimes just a few fights away from being big sponsors.
Finally, I always suggest being creative and finding sponsors that resonate with you. If you’re a vegan then it’s probably not going to make much sense to get a hunting company as a sponsor.
Sponsorship’s that are in alignment with who you are will become sponsors who love having you on board as much as you love having them.
Douglas “The Phenom” Lima is a Brazilian mixed martial artist who competes in Bellator MMA where is he is the reigning Welterweight Champion, and is the former MFC Welterweight Champion. Douglas can be found at American Top Team of Gwinnett, and on Twitter.
I think social media is the best way to get noticed by sponsors. There are more people on the internet nowadays, so being active there would be the best way.
Also, getting sponsors is not just about winning fights. I think the more exciting you are and the more finishes you have, the more sponsors will notice you.
Javier “Showtime” Vazquez is a retired Cuban-American mixed martial artist, former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion, and owner of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Rancho. Javier can be found on Instagram, and on Twitter.
To get attention from sponsors you need to win, be able to talk on the mic, and always mention/praise the sponsors that you have, including wearing their gear at events.
Just like Jeff Curran stated, getting sponsors is about management, management, management.
Win, understand your demographic, and build relationships. That’s how to get MMA sponsors to notice you.
Sam Wilson is one of the most respected matchmaker’s in women’s MMA today. She is also an athlete-relations representative, and sponsorship-finder. Sam has experience working with Invicta FC, Strikeforce, DEEP, KOTC, and more. Sam can be found on Facebook.
The best thing I can tell you about sponsors and fighters is that there needs to be a good relationship with the sponsor/product.
If you do not believe in the product, it will be hard for you to sell it.
There are a lot of mom and pop sponsors that will provide product in lieu of financial backing. If you are new in the pro fight world, this is a start for a brand product for you. I have told fighters in the past to sell the gear for gas/gym fees. There are paying sponsors but, for females, the price is still not enough to rely on that as a sole means of income.
The bottom line is: find a product you believe in. Make sure you’re willing to do what you must in order to keep a mutually beneficial working relationship between yourself and the sponsor. And make your expectations of pay in accordance to the promotion and media coverage of the event.
One more item is to make sure there is a contract in place. It’s a safeguard for payment.
I would have to say that making the most of your time on TV interviews is key for people to remember you. When people know you, you’re what sponsors want.
Be funny, intense or whatever comes naturally for a fighter. Just don’t be boring!!
Secondly, I would suggest being flashy with your techniques, as long as they are effective.
Thirdly, being aggressive is always a fan favorite. Putting it all on the line and bringing the ruckus!!
All these are strategies a fighter can use to recruit fans and be what sponsors look for!!
To get noticed by MMA sponsors, promote yourself well, be well-spoken, and post on social media. And of course, win your fights.
1. Fight, win, and get a good record.
2. Get on a good show. Try to get TV time.
3. Develop your fanfare and social media to get tons of followers.
To get sponsors, promote, win, & be marketable!
Spencer “The King” Fisher is a semi-retired American mixed martial artist who most recently competed in the UFC‘s Lightweight division. He is the owner of Team Evolution MMA. Spencer can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Fight with heart! People notice when you truly love what you’re doing, so be passionate about it.
You need the ability to speak with people. I would sometimes practice talking with my wife as if she was the company I was going to try to get sponsors from. There’s nothing worse than being put on the spot when it comes to money and not being able to tell them why they need to sponsor you.
Be organized. Have thing’s written down and sorted out so you can easily tell a sponsor what you’re giving them and why it’s worth their money & time.
Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet is an American mixed martial artist competing in the Featherweight division of Invicta FC. She is a two-time Canadian Muay Thai Champion, one-time IFMA World Champion, and one-time IKF World Champion. Charmaine can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
The best way to get noticed in today’s WMMA & MMA World is to constantly keep branding yourself.
Let me ask you a question: Does anyone care that Budweiser tastes better than Old Milwaukee? NO, they don’t. They buy it because it’s been branded to them since they could read, or watch TV. And that’s why people gravitate to their product over another. Branding, branding, branding…that is the key. In today’s world it’s all about your social media.
Each fighter is a business and must run their career like a business. Some businesses succeed and others fail. Which one do you want to be?
Now don’t get me wrong, winning doesn’t hurt either, but branding is just as important, if not more so.
That being said, to gain new sponsors you need to “shake hands and kiss babies”. Not many people I know say “Yes” to parting with their money over the phone or Twitter. So invite a potential sponsor to one of your shows or PPV events. Show them what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.
Lastly, reputation is important. If your current sponsor likes you, ask him/her for referrals. Chances are if they talk you up, their friends and business associates will be more likely to jump on board.
Always under-promise and over-deliver to your sponsors. Treat them like family, not just a paycheck. Most of them don’t receive anything in return for sponsoring you, other than to see their logo’s on your fight gear when watching events with their buddies. So make the personal touch the one that counts.
Robert “The Saint” Emerson is an American mixed martial artist currently competing in Bellator MMA. He was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 5. Robert can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Well I’d say no.1 is KO’ing your opponents. Or the more finishes the better.
There are a lot of guys getting into this game so it’s important you have a fighting style that sets you apart from the rest!! Also being marketable is important too!
Are you wondering how to get noticed by MMA sponsors?
Well, getting noticed is the fun part of the job!
How are you as a person? In and out of the cage, are you respectful, kind, honest, and trustworthy? You’ll need to display these traits because sponsors are always looking at this. Sponsors want to work with good people.
Next, what kind of stuff do you post on Facebook? What do you share on social media? Sponsors want to see that you have an engaged fan base, and again, your integrity needs to show through.
The big thing is what you do when you’re not training. Are you helping others? Are you working with non-profits, working with charities?
Always work with companies that you, as a fighter, have a personal interest in. Think outside of the box. And don’t forget winning is everything!
1. First and foremost build a personal relationship with the sponsor. Nobody wants to be solicited from an agent/manager about how great it is for their company to sponsor an athlete they don’t even know.
2. Make sure to constantly advertise the company thorough social media, interviews, etc. Company’s want to know you aren’t just putting their logo on your shorts and banner for an easy paycheck.
3. Make sure after each fight to thank your sponsors. A lot of sponsors just sponsor fighters to help them out and because they are fans of the sport.
Also, if possible, send them your fight shorts, gloves, banner etc. after the fight. I usually have two banners made per fight just to send one to one of my sponsors. Memorabilia from an event they sponsored you in goes a long way in showing your appreciation.
Benji “The Razor” Radach is an American mixed martial arts fighter, and was recently named the corporate director of instructor’s training for LA Boxing. Benji can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
Other than winning fights the other ways to be noticed by sponsors is to represent the sponsors you do have professionally and with pride.
Other ways to get sponsors is by finishing fights in an exciting way. That’s always been the ways I have earned respect from potential sponsors.
1. You need to establish your presence on social media. Twitter has been a very successful tool for our team.
2. Take tough fights that people will want to write about.
3. Create relationships with media. The more positive relationships you have with media the better.
4. Win some fucking fights!
Number 4 should be number 1 on everybody’s agenda!
To get noticed by sponsors you need to get a manager, know someone, and win fights.
There are plenty of things a fighter can do to get noticed by sponsors.
I think one of the best ways, aside from winning, is social media! You need a decent following, and you need to post regularly.
Also, you have to be professional! Professionalism is very important.
Another thing that’s important, is to not have too many sponsors. I think having a few good sponsors is better than having 20. Better advertisement for the sponsors.
Fighters need to be good representatives of this sport as a whole, including sponsors, gyms, etc..
1. Have an entertaining/fan friendly fighting style. A style people want to pay money to watch.
2. Be very visible on social media, lots of tweets, lots of followers, etc..
3. Make sure to visibly show, and give shout outs to, your current sponsors when possible.
Toby Imada is an American mixed martial artist of Japanese and Mexican descent. He fights for Bellator MMA in their Lightweight division. He won 2009 Submission of the Year with an inverted triangle choke. Toby can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
1. Personality. You need to be well spoken and friendly. People like someone confident and articulate. As well as entertaining. You gotta attract and work the crowd.
2. You must develop a style. Which includes your walkout music, how you dress both in and out of the ring/cage. Be radical, edgy, unique, but be classy.
3. Market yourself. Make business cards, talk to people, show up at events, get your picture taken. The more people see you the more you’ll be worth to sponsors.
Jeff “The Snowman” Monson is an American mixed martial artist. He is a two-time winner of the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, and a No Gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Champion. Jeff can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Well you said it, the first way to get attention from sponsors is by winning fights. But being controversial is a very big enticement for advertisers too. It has to be controversial to a point though. Chael Sonnen was great because he had great comments, quotes, and gave intelligent interviews. He didn’t just talk like a thug, as in “I’m gonna kill you!”
An advertiser will likely pursue you if you’re winning because that means you’re in the public eye. But you also have to look like the type of person that would use their product. i.e. shaving cream for a bald fighter, protein supplements for a really fit fighter (or a fighter than didn’t have a great body but now does).
And lastly, the area a fighter comes from can resonate with a particular product. For example: a top fighter from Brazil is more likely to be offered a deal from a company of sports wear, travel, etc. than a company like Chevrolet (Chevrolet is a company that would fit domestic fans). Someone like Randy Couture would, in my opinion, be a good spokesman for an American car company.
Saad “Assassin” Awad is an American mixed martial artist currently competing in Bellator’s Lightweight division. He has formerly competed for Strikeforce and King of the Cage. Saad can be found on his website, and on Twitter.
Outside of MMA I would say that you should compete in other activities.
One would be BJJ tournaments.
Another I would say is Crossfit.
And if you have time, try and do triathlons or even spartan races. If you do good in any of these events I’m sure it will open doors to new potential sponsors.
Manny “The Anvil” Gamburyan is an Armenian mixed martial artist currently competing in the UFC’s Bantamweight division. A professional competitor since 1999, he was a cast member of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter 5. Manny can be found at his website, and on Twitter.
Getting noticed by sponsors comes down to 3 important things. I would say number 1 is to win fights.
Number 2 is to look good winning your fights.
And number 3 is to be active on social media (as you can see I have not been doing much of number 3 lately, lol!).
Houston “The Assassin” Alexander is an American mixed martial artist who currently competes in Bellator’s Light Heavyweight division. He has also fought for the UFC, Shark Fights, and KSW and has fought as a Heavyweight. Houston can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Having an outgoing and friendly personality helps get you noticed by MMA sponsors. You want to be known as someone who “works good with people”. Possessing a promotional background is important too, since self-promotion and marketing gets your name out there. Lastly, having good morals is something you need as well.
Those are the things I’ve seen make a difference in this business. I do radio, tv, and public relations.
1. Be Authentic: There are a lot of different personalities and a lot of different fighters out there, but you have to do something to stand out and to be yourself. There is only one “You” so show the world who you really are, and make yourself proud.
2. Train Hard and Fight Hard: You should train so hard that when you get in the cage that’s the easy part. When you fight, fight for a finish don’t ever leave it to the judges. I have seen more fighters loose because of the judges then probably anything else in MMA.
3. Have a Good and Grateful Personality: I think this one speaks for itself. If you truly try to do the right thing always and you are grateful for everything you are given it shows. Who wouldn’t like more good and grateful people representing their brand? Everyone wants those type of people.
Gratitude and the next step
Once again, a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this article. You all rock my socks!
Now then, if you’d like to get your hands on the TOP 5 TIPS to get noticed by sponsor’s, as voted by the fighters in this article, I’ve got ya covered! Best of all, it’s free!
Click the image below to download the Top 5 Tips now. Then tell me 1 tip you have to get noticed by sponsors, in the comment section below.