Who would have thought back in 1993 that a then-unknown martial arts event which featured fighters from different disciplines would lay the groundwork for an industry where if you have decent idea and few bucks lying around, you can start your own MMA-based company?
Mixed Martial Arts touches so many areas from food to fungus soap, but no industry is more popular to get in than MMA clothing. B/R decided to take a look at the top 15 MMA-themed brands out on the market right now, and why you should plunk down you hard-earned cash to get fitted out with their gear.
Summary: "FORM Athletics apparel has perfect fit, premium quality, ease of movement, superior materials and a clean aesthetic style—a look that is effortless."—www.formathletics.com
Why You Should Buy It: Founded by current WEC and future UFC superstar Uriah Faber at the start of 2010, the brand is quickly starting to make its mark on the industry. Their stylish mix of t-shirts and hats will serve them well as their main pitchman, Faber, starts fighting in the Octagon next year.
Summary: "Red Arme is an Asian inspired, military themed luxury brand created to celebrate mixed martial arts. A brand born in New York City in 2009 with the Manifesto, “A Fearless Heart… A Willing Combatant!” A credo built upon the principles of truth, honor and respect.
"Red Arme Tactical Training Apparel™ features limited edition designs each stemming from a unique story and source of inspiration. Red Arme has been adorned in the Octagon for WEC and Strikeforce mixed martial arts events and has been featured in prominent magazines such as Fight!, Fighters Only, MMA Authority, Inked, Inked Girls, Back\Slash and other leading publications and websites." —www.redarme.com
Why You Should Buy It: Overall, they enter into the MMA Clothing landscape without being so keen on playing up the whole MMA angle with cheesy names like "Blood Man" or "Cage Star". Their shirts are affordable while maintaining a high level of quality. Bottom line, Red Arme makes clothing that you can wear to the club or to the fight.
Summary: "Ecko unltd. has been the leading face of global youth culture since 1993 and has expanded to include t-shirts, denim jeans, hoodies, footwear, watches, hats, bags, and more."—www.shopecko.com
Why You Should Buy It: Ecko has always been a solid brand that makes great clothing. In the last few years they've jumped into the MMA clothing arena with some pretty sweet looking board shorts, and t-shirts. While they were able to get Frank Mir to wear their brand as a walkout tee last year, they still need to acquire a bigger roster of fighters to represent them in the cage.
"Founded by a former amateur MMA fighter and his friend, the two put together their visions in order to make them a reality. They envisioned a company that would be suitable for fighters and fans of all ages. No matter what the age, in order to do something in this world, it starts with yourself, and the five words:
"The Hero Comes From Within
"Cage Hero is not only a lifestyle, it is a family. Only certain fighters have the charisma, character and drive to be a Cage Hero. Our goal is simple: Inspire all to follow their passion. Do what you love."—www.cagehero.net
Why You Should Buy It: This brand has a great collection of t-shirts with a nice hybrid of MMA and Comic book inspiration. Fighters like Cung Le, Miesha Tate and Luke Rockhold all have shirts modeled after them and it's just a fun brand to wear at your next MMA event.
Summary: Clinch Gear is owned by MMA superstar Dan Henderson, one of the most accomplished athletes in the history of mixed martial arts competition. They focus on the production of high performance loose-fit board shorts for mixed martial arts, grappling, wrestling, judo and other combat sports.
Why You Should Buy It: While not on the level of a TapOut or Affliction, Clinch Gear offers clothing for the serious MMA fan. Besides, how can you not support a clothing line from the legendary Hendo?
Summary: One More Round prides itself in delivering high-quality lifestyle apparel. Since its debut in 2007, the brand has managed to align itself with retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Von Maur and more.
The clothing company has managed to get a variety of well-known MMA superstars like Matt Hughes, Dan Henderson, Heath Herring and Patrick Cote to wear their gear as well.
Why You Should Buy It: Their t-shirts and hoodies offer a stylish similarity to Affliction without the hefty price tag.
Summary: "RVCA is a design-driven lifestyle brand which has made it's home on the shelves of local skate shops and boutiques out on the west coast."—www.rcva.com
Why You Should Buy It: With fighters like BJ Penn, Vitor Belfort and even Fedor supporting the brand, RVCA offers a simple design style which is not cluttered with the usual obvious nature of an MMA brand. You can wear these clothes to the beach as well as a brawl, and still look good.
Summary: Ranger Up launched in 2006 and they make shirts for the military and the patriotic Americans who love the men and women of the Armed Forces. The guys that own this company either were or are still in the military.
Why You Should Buy It: This is a great company that really plays off of American patriotism. They have a great line up of t-shirts which use a mix of great colonial reference with MMA style.
Summary: "Jaco Clothing is an action sports lifestyle brand that creates innovative, authentic apparel and accessories that deliver the same founding elements as the athletes who wear them: respect, strength, courage, and tenacity.
"Jaco is pronounced as it would be in Brazilian Portuguese. The “J” sounds like “si” in the word Persia, the “a” sounds like the “a” in automobile, the “c” is pronounced like “k”, and “o” is pronounced as the “o” in the word go."—www.jacoclothing.com
Why You Should Buy It: With fighters on their roster like Wanderlei Silva and Brandon Vera, this brand offers a stylish Brazilian flavor to its clothing line. In addition to t-shirts and board shorts, they also produce performance-based clothing like compression shorts and mouth guards.
Summary: The Dethrone Royalty brand was formed in 2009. Their stable of fighters includes top MMA
athletes and world champion boxers.
Why You Should Buy It: Dethrone make a nice variety of fighter and pop culture inspired and tees. These guys are making power moves in this market and only look to gain greater exposure now that one of their already established poster boys—Cain Velasquez—is now the UFC Heavyweight Champ.
Summary: "Bad Boy provides martial arts athletes with the most innovative, high quality, performance products designed to benefit the athlete in both training and competition."—www.badboymma.com
Why You Should Buy It: Those eyes just scream badass. They've got a great mix of cage inspired clothing as well as training specific clothing like BJJ Gi's and gloves for the hardcore athletes.
Summary: "Established in 1993, Silver Star Casting Co. originated as a jewelry and accessories line forged exclusively for Hollywood’s elite. Today, the brand is one of the most visible names in mens and women’s fashion. With an unapologetic logo and bold graphics on tees, shorts, hoodies, and jerseys, Silver Star is infused with punk-rock sensibilities that push the fashion envelope."—www.silverstarnow.com
Why You Should Buy It: I remember seeing this brand first start to make headway back when I was in college, just before the UFC was purchased by Zuffa. Originally, they started out as a punk rock-styled brand for skaters, surfers and rockers. Once MMA really started to emerge as a major force in the mainstream, Silver Star jumped right on it by sponsoring big name fighters and creating some really nicely designed fitted t-shirts.
Their stable of pitchmen runs pretty deep with big names like Anderson Silva, GSP, Bruce Buffer and Diego Sanchez just to name a few.
Summary: "Tokyo Five is a Denim and Sportswear Lifestyle Brand inspired by Classic American Workwear and the Samurai Fighting Spirit."—www.tokyofive.com
Why You Should Buy It: Tokyo Five offers a wide variety of polos, t-shirts and fashionable jeans which make you think that this is more of a high end fashion company. With its Japanese inspired designs, this gear allows you to make a seamless transition from the fight to the club.
Summary: "Affliction Clothing's ability to set the bar high in fashion is evident in its collection's indulgence of style and design, focus on quality, and its trademark series of divinely executed, dark and powerful themes. Affliction is a mainstay for the most elite athletes, heaviest bands, A-listers and the fashion conscious worldwide.
"Affliction defines and meets the needs of our style savvy customer with an ever-expanding collection of contemporary fashion focused on an innovative combination of style, fit, fabrics, finishes and quality. A true culture phenomenon and a commercial powerhouse; Affliction brands are rooted in and beloved by the hard rock and sports communities."—www.afflictionclothing.com
Why You Should Buy It: Ok yes, it’s because of this brand that 40+ year old men who go to the gym six times a week have something to wear when then they go to a Vegas club, but if you overlook all of that, Affliction Clothing has really made a name for itself in this market, hence earning the No. 2 spot on this list.
Originally starting out as a rock inspired t-shirt company which featured signature tees of bands like the Misfits, Biohazard, and Black Sabbath they quickly migrated into the MMA arena by creating signature tees for big name fighters like GSP, Randy Couture, and Rampage Jackson.
While a bit pricey—their t-shirts usually run for about $60 or more—they make high quality gear that will make you look good if you have the build for it, and yes I do wanna stress that you should at least be hitting the gym a few times a week if you’re going to rock one of these fitted tees.
Co-owner Tom Atencio has helped to navigate the company into the fight promotion space at one point, putting on cards which featured non UFC fighters like Fedor and Josh Barnett. While making some pretty good headway at first – even sparking the ire of UFC president Dana White—they had to close up shop due to the inability to continue funding the cards which paid its fighters quite handsomely.
In recent years, the company has been able to expand its lines to more "runway worthy" clothing in order to appeal to a much larger audience. However, they will never move away from their skull and cross bones roots which has allowed them to be so popular, particularly on the West Coast.
Summary: "As the premiere lifestyle brand of the MMA world, TapouT undoubtedly corners the competition- in and out of the octagon.
"The ubiquitous logo-blazen tee shirt that made TapouT a madhouse-hold name can now be purchased in over 20,000 retail stores worldwide (not including online), along with a full line of fighter gear, men’s, women’s, youth and accessories."—www.tapout.com
Why You Should Buy It: Here they are folks, the legendary originators of this market, the standard by which all other MMA clothing brands will be measured: TapOut.
If you don’t know this company’s story by now you really should read up on because it’s pretty inspiring. TapOut started out back in 1997 by the late Charles Lewis, Jr. (also known as "Mask"), Dan Caldwell (also known as "Punkass") and Tim Katz (also known as “Skyscrape”).
They began selling their t-shirts out of the trunk of their car at MMA events and quickly started to pick up steam in popularity. Once they built a solid relationship with the UFC, the two basically worked in tandem to promote all the positive aspects of the sport.
The brand is not only affordable, but is the single most representative article of clothing that you could possibly wear that can identify you as an MMA fan. With their increasing availability in well known retail outlets like The Sports Authority and Champs Sports, this company is set to sit atop the No. 1 spot for quite a long time.