When you talk to Mike Cascia and Scott Bauer, a very distinct feeling comes over you. You get the idea that these gentlemen are well on their way to making their mark on this sport.
That mark is the brand of Jitz Fighting Apparel. It is a mark that can be found on fighters whom they sponsor, or littering the southwest worn proud by their fans, and even half way around the globe on our soldiers.
Some notable names wearing the Jitz brand include, but are not limited to, UFC standouts Joe Lauzon and George Roop, Noah Thomas of the WEC, Mike Whitehead, the list goes on. Mike Cascia went out of his way to mention how appreciative Jitz is of those fighters who took a chance on a young company, and wore their brand with pride.
Jitz has a goal in mind, and that goal is to set themselves apart as an alternative to the norm in the MMA clothing industry.
Mike stated, "I understand that if it ain't broke don't fix it, but at the same time you have got to bring something to the table that they haven't seen before or haven't heard of before that is just a little bit different. I think we provide that.
"People that get to know us or do know us will find there is an element of integrity that is attached to us. A lot of people who know us know we mean what we say. I'm not speaking on anyone else saying that they don't have that, but the industry was getting a little bit regular for our style and we just felt like it needed something new.
"We care about who we talk to, we care about what we say, and we mean what we say. We just felt that there could be a little bit more compassion involved in the business aspect of MMA without compromising that business aspect. That is something that we take pride in.
"We have yet to sponsor a fighter that did not want us to sponsor them again"
Not only does Jitz support the fighter, but they make a strong effort to support our troops overseas as well. In Iraq, Jitz is making strides to not only train soldiers, but enable them to compete in small tournaments known as the Jitz Combatives.
Mike had this to say about the events that they sponsor in Iraq, "They've got a love for this sport, just as much as the next guy. They don't have the resources to see it like we do, and experience it like we do. So we try to help bring it to them. The way we look at it, that's the least we can do."
Scott, a military veteran, talked about working the Jitz Combatives, "We take a lot of pride in helping support the soldiers in any way we can, we owe it to them. These guys put their lives on the line every day, and at the end of the day, they're still willing to go through a tournament." Scott is actually in Iraq and plays a hands on role.
A portion of Jitz proceeds go to support the Wounded Warrior Project. The WWP is an honorable cause, a cause that deserves its own column written about its efforts. Suffice to say, it is another great place to see Jitz focusing on with regard to their support of the troops.
Jitz is trying to set its own tone in the business of MMA gear, their generosity to the troops is a great place to start. Mike points to their genuine willingness and drive to do their part. "At the end of the day it was something we didn't have to do, we wanted to do it."
Helping the troops is just one strong point to take away from their efforts. In the process they also display a more human side to the MMA community. The forward progress of this sport is happening quickly but it is still widely brushed aside as blood sport, or non relevant by the "sophisticated" masses.
Efforts like those of Jitz, and the people behind it, go a long way in offsetting that sentiment. Mike had a great comment regarding that aspect.
"A lot of people don't realize just how evolved the sport it is, just how articulate it is, how calculated it is, and just how much knowledge actually goes into it. And just like anybody else, MMA fighters, cage fighters, whether they are amateur or pro, can actually still care about people. You know, care about life issues and politics, we've got brains too.
"I think its crucial that people see people involved in MMA doing stuff like this. It kind of washes off that tainted picture that MMA is a bunch of knuckle heads. I think it's absolutely crucial that people can associate more positives with MMA."
Supporting the men and women of our armed forces, and setting a tone of respect and dignity representing the MMA community is a great way for Jitz to display some of those positives. It also displays their intentions to raise the sport up with their lead.
When talking about the future, Mike was quick to claim his intentions, "We plan to take over the world, one fighter at a time. I wish I was kidding but that's our goal. We want to go straight to the top.
"We don't want to replace anybody. Competition in this business is necessary. We deserve to be on the radar. That's how we feel, we deserve it, we earned it. You know we built Jitz from nothing. We didn't have anything when we started this company, just an idea. We felt like the sponsorship in MMA clothing was lacking something and we had the answer to it."
In closing Mike had this to say, "Give Jitz a chance, we're just a bunch of guys that started from nothing, and we're going somewhere. We can't do it without the fans or the fighters."