Let me clear a few things up. Dan Henderson owns the Clinch Gear, and I manage that business for him. We did have an agreement with Zuffa and were paying them monthly for the right to sponsor fighters in the UFC. The WEC does not currently charge a fee.
I received a phone call from a Zuffa representative about 10 days ago informing me that Dana decided to terminate our agreement and ban Clinch Gear from the UFC and WEC because Dan declined their most recent contract offer. Considering Zuffa's history, it was neither surprising nor unexpected--it's just business. If Dan ever returns to the UFC, I would imagine that the ban on Clinch Gear will be lifted.
Zuffa has every right to ban Clinch Gear, so we are appreciative that they allowed us to follow through with the three fighters we had previously agreed to sponsor for UFC 105, as I would have hated to leave those guys in a lurch the week before the event.
On a related note, I was also informed by the same representative that RVCA was banned due to their sponsor relationship with Fedor. Ironically, he had just been featured in one of their shirts on TUF a day earlier, though the episode was filmed months before.
We will continue to sponsor athletes in organizations such as Strikeforce, so we certainly are not without alternatives. Furthermore, because we serve the endemic market, we are far less dependent upon an affiliation with the UFC as are the many lifestyle brands. In fact, most casual viewers who don't train have probably never seen our products in retail setting, as we currently focus exclusively on distribution through gyms and MMA specialty stores. In addition, we offer custom shorts and rash guards for MMA gyms and wrestling teams, and that business is booming.
Due to our modest budget, we primarily sponsored undercard fighters in the UFC and the WEC, and the people most affected by this decision are those athletes. It narrows their options and could reduce their income, as many larger clothing companies limit their sponsorships to fighters who are scheduled for the televised cards.
Clinch Gear will remain a core brand in the MMA industry and will continue to develop innovative products and business strategies. Dan and I are thankful to everyone who has supported the Clinch Gear brand and contributed to our growth and success.
Fighers Only Magazine was also able to confirm what I was reporting earlier today.
RVCA and Clinch Gear have become the two latest additions to the UFC’s sponsorship blacklist, it was confirmed today. The bannings were the subject of much discussion among industry insiders at the weekend’s UFC 105 event, but were not confirmed until today.
RVCA has attracted the ire of the UFC by sponsoring Fedor Emelianenko for his fight with Brett Rogers on the recent Strikeforce/CBS show. As a long-time sponsor of lightweight champion BJ Penn, the brand is a familiar one with UFC fans.
Clinch Gear has been banned from the Octagon for obvious reasons. The brand is Dan Henderson’s own clothing line and as the UFC and he are no longer seeing eye to eye, the label is not welcome in the cage. Relations between UFC president Dana White and Henderson have apparently been cordial during negotiations but this latest move may upset the former Pride double-champion.