I’ve been astonished over the past few years by just how mainstream MMA has become. I can remember seeing the TapouT crew in their buffoonish costumes years ago, at small King of the Cage fighting events on Indian reservations in California. They seemed like a joke. They still do, but BrandWeek looks at their amazing growth:
2005: $3 million
2006: $12 million
2007: $22.5 million
2008: $100 million (projected)
2009: $225 million (projected)
Oh, and they have negligible competition.
Like I said, I can remember the early days:
By 1997, the pair had quit their jobs to start TapouT, the first such apparel company for the MMA world. A Web-only business, its sales grew from a meager $29,000 to $3 million by 2005. In those days, before the sport had really taken off, the brand made a name for itself by sponsoring athletes with amazing ease. Caldwell remembers being able to outfit some early fighters in head-to-toe TapouT looks for a mere $500. But as the sport grew, so did TapouT, and it was time for the next phase.
Then they brought in marketer Marc Kreiner and got funding from PemGroup.
They now have an almost unwatchable reality show, which, of course, serves as one long commercial for their brand. It’s not unwatchable to everybody though; 100 fans have sent in photos of their TapouT tattoos.
(Hat tip to Robert Joyner at MMAPayout.)