And1 is primarily a basketball company, best known for its moderately priced footwear and apparel as well as the high-energy mixtapes that functioned as guerilla marketing and launched the brand into national consciousness. The California company, however, recently decided to dip its kicks into the waters of MMA, signing popular UFC middleweight Nate Quarry to a multi-fight sponsorship deal.
Quarry will unveil his new sponsor during his UFC 91 matchup with Demian Maia on Nov. 15. And1 will be one of two primary sponsors for Quarry, with a logo on his fight shorts and octagon signage, along with Nuvasive, the medical company which developed the spinal fusion procedure that saved his fighting career.
"When I think of Nike, I think of a couple guys with a waffle iron starting the company," Quarry said. "Back then, they decided they wanted to do something different. But now, the guys who did all that are stitting in boardrooms, comfortable and complacement. But you have these other upstarts, realizing, 'Hey this MMA thing, this UFC, we've got something here.' It's nice to see these companies getting excited about entering the MMA world, and it's cool to see the rewards they get out of it."
And1 representatives admit this isn't the most logical marriage, but in an important way, it is: the coveted male 18-34 demographic watches UFC events, so why not promote your brand where the eyeballs are? And1 gets coverage on ESPN and has successfully grown their line of apparel competing against the Adidas' and Nikes of the world. This is an unconventional way to market gear given that And1 doesn't have any MMA apparel to sell, but to the average sports fan who enjoys basketball and is watching UFC 91 this will make him or her view And1 with a raised eyebrow. In that sense, it accentuates and reinvigorates the And1 brand. For the MMA fan, noticing that And1 is throwing their hat in the MMA mix serves as evidence that the move towards mainstream sponsorship is still on the march.