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« | Home | »

Cashing in with Bloodstain Lane, the future of MMA sponsorship?

By Zach Arnold | July 20, 2013

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This is not a headline I expected to write, but truth can often be stranger than fiction in combat sports.

On Thursday, the inimitable Anthony Bloodstain Lane signed a sponsorship deal with Bobby Razak and Street Made Team. Bobby is a director and founder of TapouT films. The deal is an example of a California company reaching out to a New York personality. New York, of course, is the only major state where MMA is still banned. Once MMA legislation does pass (after Sheldon Silver’s departure… eventually…), lots of potential for growth.

What has to be acknowledged is that Street Made would not have made this sponsorship deal with Bloodstain Lane if they didn’t see $ to be made. What that says about the current environment for sponsorship opportunities in MMA in 2013, that’s up to you. What it does indicate is that there are companies that are still interested in investing in the MMA space, but they don’t see bang for their buck in the current format and are now aggressively looking for alternative opportunities to get involved. Hardcore MMA fans remain strong online, especially in social media circles where so much MMA news is leaked.

The deal Lane signed with Street Made essentially is the typical kind of deal a fighter would sign with a company where there is guaranteed money involved. BSL will collaborate with Street Made on producing gear and marketing it. He will be hustling goods.

So, why would a company looking to sponsor players in MMA go this route? Because the current avenues of sponsorship have largely been a failure. The issue of UFC having a sponsorship tax has proven to be a double-edged sword. It’s an expensive bribe that was pitched as a way to get your foot into the door and to try to prevent fighters from getting stiffed on money. Instead, many companies are struggling to even make payment for the sponsorship tax and have been ‘blacklisted’ with Zuffa. The pool of sponsorship money for fighters who are not in the upper-tier is shrinking rapidly because sponsors simply don’t see any significant Return on Investment. Why would you want to sponsor a guy who fights on Facebook? The fighters who need sponsorship money the most are the ones having the most trouble getting deals made. If you’re wanting to sponsor someone for a few thousand dollars, you want exposure.

And this is where Street Made’s calculation of cutting a deal with Lane is fascinating. They’ve made the calculation that working with a strong online personality on social media in the combat sports space will have a bigger payoff than sponsoring your typical run-of-the-mill MMA fighter and having to play by the rules of organizations like the UFC. As one analyst framed the deal to us, “companies are seeing value in MMA brands with loyal followings outside of promotions and fighters.”

One thing is for sure: I don’t think you’ll see your average sponsors in the UFC making comments like this:

What intrigues me about the Street Made sponsorship deal with Bloodstain Lane is that I know one person who will paying attention to it — Dana White. Sounds irrational, right? Two years ago, I wrote about maybe one of my favorite observations ever when I discussed how Dana White got distracted into an online feud with Bloodstain while an actual fight show was airing on television.

Topics: MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 14 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

14 Responses to “Cashing in with Bloodstain Lane, the future of MMA sponsorship?”

  1. Dave says:

    This is actually kind of brilliant and not the first time that someone has offered or gave him money to do what he does. I’m pretty friendly with him, which comes with its own caveats at times.

    He has a legion of followers that are willing to listen to what he has to say and potentially buy what he’s selling. In the world of marketing that is very potent stuff, even if it is to a limited market. If you introduce his Bloodstain Lane character to a wider audience I really have to think that it will take off.

    MMA fans have to want more than the squeaky clean, UFC-friendly kind of stuff like TommyToeHold and MMARoasted, but not everyone uses Twitter.

  2. Jonathan Snowden says:

    This is a pretty weird deal. He reaches a tiny audience of people who are already deeply involved in the community. Who are they selling to?

  3. Chuck Finley's Dong says:

    Wow … apparently being a pimple on the ass of MMA is worth something, apparently. What’s next …a Front Row Brian energy drink?

  4. Chris C says:

    Slow news day i guess.

    Ed. — If there isn’t anything to discuss, there aren’t items posted. The situation with sponsors in MMA is a real story given how many sponsors have basically lost their ass. As strange as latest developments are, it is a story…

  5. The Gaijin says:

    It was nice of him to almost IMMEDIATELY go on a rampage and start calling people “faggot” and talking smack like a low-brow, d-bag meathead.

    I’m sure his sponsors will love that…and, frankly that might not even be a sarcastic statement.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Well…shows what I know. I checked out a video from this guy and, well, clearly the type of outburst I referred to are not a surprise to his sponsors.

      I can’t believe people follow someone like that. He literally offers nothing to the sport, either in the way of a relevant opinion, insight, expertise or dissenting opinion. He just spews a lot of epithets, curse words and invective…I’m sure most of it is a “character”, but this is like the lowest level derivative of the hackneyed shit Sonnen pulled…except adding the twist of a full-on bigot.

      What a black eye.

  6. mmabait says:

    FRB Energy drinks, ZombieProphet T-shirts and Ariel Helwani hats…..

    shut up and take my money!

  7. Manapua says:

    You won’t even cover Bellator but THIS is newsworthy????

    Ed. — When Bellator cards are back on the air, sure, definitely talk-worthy. But I don’t really do reality TV show recaps…

  8. Mario says:

    I find it weird, as Bloodstain Lane spend a lot of time putting down MMA. He don’t like it he say many times. I like Lane but probably a bad move by company as Lane hate MMA and he is more of a ‘nerd’ reputation, unless is maybe something like BSL gets 10% cut of referrals. Which is not much a ‘deal’ but affiliate marketing. Remember he had a lot of trouble even selling 100 of his own brand t-shirts even with 10,000 followers??

  9. [...] Return on Investment when it comes to pouring money into the MMA space, similar to what sponsors who have crashed & burned discovered in a hurry. A touch of irony given who owns the [...]

  10. [...] One thing is for certain: reputable names in the world of MMA agents are looking to either lighten their footprint or get out of the business entirely. I won’t mention specific names but I can assure you that a couple of agents (who are not uncles, cousins, or family flunkies of fighters) who have made a good career representing successful MMA fighters are looking to invest their time and money elsewhere. The universal complaint about where things stand right now has to do with sponsorship money. The combination of UFC’s sponsor tax/bribe and companies not seeing enough value in putting money into sponsoring non-main eventers has caused a collapse for sponsor revenue. Fighters who not upper-echelon simply aren’t attractive now to potential sponsors in 2013. It’s why potential sponsors are considering unconventional deals (like sponsoring Bloodstain L…. [...]

  11. James says:

    Its always been difficult for mma fighters to find sponsorship, so seeing a successful fighter receive such a big deal is good for the sport and will only help it grow, however it will good to see upcoming fighters signing similar deals

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