Robert Whiteford Talks New Tenacity Deal And UFC Apparel Sponsorship
Dinky Ninjas and American Top Team featherweight Robert 'Flyin Judoka' Whiteford will undoubtedly be one of the stars of the show when the UFC head to Scotland for the first time in July. Even though he's been out of action through injury since picking up his first Octagon victory in March of last year, Whiteford has been helping to boost the UFC's media presence around Glasgow already. Speaking to Fightstore Pro, Whiteford said he was looking to get another win under his belt in April before heading straight into another camp for the event in his home country. "I'm already getting prepared," he told us, just before heading out to ATT in Florida to start ramping up his training. Helping to push him through the gruelling weeks on the mat will be new sponsor Tenacity Europe, who are known to American fans as Jaco. In finalising the deal, Whiteford was pleased with their commitment to him as an athlete, though he recognises the timing is also good for both parties.
"There’s obviously a niche in the market here in Scotland and they’re getting their hand in with one of the rising stars of Scottish MMA," he revealed. "That’s probably how they’ve seen it. They’ve got intelligent researchers, let’s put it that way!"
MMA brands are in a state of flux at the moment, with the UFC and Reebok deal considerably changing the sponsorship landscape in some ways. The Scot was adamant this could only be positive for him as a fighter, but also a good thing for the brands too should they start to see the potential opportunity in the new challenges they will face.
"The Reebok deal only really affects fight week and fight night. There are good sponsors out there like Tenacity who aren’t small minded. They don't just want their logo on your banner and fight shorts. Their real interest is in the athlete themselves so it’s actually good to get a sponsor behind you and not just have a brand who wants to get in the Octagon."
Robert Whiteford at ATT
This symbiosis of fighter and brand means more than simply sticking your gear on an athlete and exchanging contracts. Whiteford continued,
"The good thing is it’s making them be more active in promoting themselves, not just on fight night. They have to find other ways to get the brand out there, therefore they have to market you so it’s better for the brand and the athlete. They market you rather than just the other way round.
"Brands have the money and brains in the marketing department so it’s an advantage for both sides. Yeah, we can use our social media to plug it but this way they’re actually putting together media days and getting more creative - I’ve got my website they can get on, and they have to collaborate with top retailers like Fightstore Pro to create content. It gets the athlete out there in a wider variety of ways and that means a better relationship and better exposure."
Whiteford admitted he didn't know figures just yet, but he'd 'definitely not be worse off' because of the deal. As Tenacity have to invest more time and effort into the fighter to market their brand, in return the fighter's increasing profile will bring more eyeballs. A shared sense of loyalty is what really makes an efficient sponsorship arrangement, and it appears Whiteford and Tenacity are already aware of that and will be in it together.
We'll have more content with Rob ahead of UFC Glasgow - stay up to date with @FightstorePro on Twitter and Facebook.
Find the full range of Tenacity products HERE.
- Jay Furness