Fighters Only, an exclusive club everyone wants to be a part of
Background and History
Fighters Only Magazine launched in February 2005 becoming the world’s first mixed martial magazine and multi-channel media source for the sport. Originally called ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Magazine, the title changed its name after the UFC informed the company of its intention to launch a reality TV show under the same name. The decision to change was immediate and was the subsequent action that built a close relationship between Fighters Only CEO Rob Hewitt and UFC President Dana White.
Fighters Only went on to publish localised language editions in Germany, South Africa and Mexico as well as wholly owned issues in the US and the UK (the latter being exported to 31 other countries). It is now the last remaining MMA magazine in existence, seeing off all competitors including the UFC Magazine published under license by AMI. Despite having low circulation numbers, it remains in publication each month as a statement to the brand overall, as its prestige and authority still resonates amongst fighters and industry professionals alike.
Strategy and Implementation
The Fighters Only content archive is arguably the world’s biggest editorial resource on the history of the sport. Their records have reports, features, interviews and insight into every fighter, fight, knockout and submission to have ever occurred in the lifespan of mixed marital arts. Over its 15-year publishing period, it has become the trusted almanac of MMA.
The SIA system developed by the i2media Group will allow all historical content assets to be uploaded and published in the most strategic manner possible. This can be either be used to power the content marketing abilities of an e-commerce platform or put behind a paywall where people can pay for access. This can provide the millions of MMA fans around the world with access to some of the most exclusive and in-depth content, portraying the history of the sport in a way that no one else can.
Social and Digital
Fighters Only has a positive social media following of 1 million+ connected followers across all channels, the figure dominated by Facebook followers. It also has positive email databases and subscription to the digital version of the magazine.
Although it has a powerful presence, the digital side remains under-developed because the main focus has always been to develop the authority and prestige of the brand. The strategy applied has been implemented in opposition to battling for incremental advertising dollars amongst the plethora of websites, social channels, podcasts and digital media that are established across the world in varying levels of substance.
World Mixed Martial Arts Awards
The Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards is the most prestigious event in the sport and industry of mixed martial arts. It’s a one of a kind spectacle that’s attended and supported by every fight organisation, fighter, executive, journalist and celebrity fan. It’s an annual culmination of the sport as a whole and represents everything that Fighters Only stands for, the legitimising and promotion of mixed martial arts and its fighters as the best sport and athletes in the world.
Now in its 12th Year, the World Mixed Martial Arts Awards is on the verge of achieving its greatest success via a long term partnership that would see the event relocated from its home in Las Vegas, to take its place amongst other mainstream sporting events including Formula 1, UFC, world championship golf, rugby and tennis in Abu Dhabi.
Having established itself as a one of the earliest brands in MMA, as well as a media source in the earliest days of the sport, Fighters Only was approached by Tapout (MMA’s famous clothing brand) to create a co-branded range of clothing. Capitalising on a ‘signature range’ strategy Fighters Only Clothing sold alongside clothing of many of the world’s best fighters including Chuck Liddel, Anderson Silva, and Chael Sonnen.
When Tapout was bought by Authentic Brands Group, the license agreement was acquired by a new company called The Sports Brand Group, headed by now Gymshark CEO, Steve Hewitt. They had the licenses for Polar Watches, Usain Bolt Puma Range and many other niche sports lifestyle products until it was placed into administration by owner John Laithwaite at very short notice. Though this proved to be an initial stumbling block it does show proof of concept that the Fighters Only brand is represents a huge opportunity for apparel and brand ancillaries when working the right partner.
Fighters Only has US and European Community Trademarks in the following Classes:
- Downloadable Electronic Media and Computer Games
- Printed Media and Manuals
- Sportswear, Leisurewear and Footwear
- Apparatus and Equipment
- Television, Radio media (including Hosting Awards Shows)