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MMA's Most Interesting Rivalry: Chael Sonnen and TapouT vs. Jon Jones and Nike

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With the UFC 151 fiasco still not far in the rearview mirror, we see a battle commence between two heavyweight MMA apparel giants: TapouT and Nike.  As any MMA fan paying attention to the news lately knows, their sponsored fighters Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones are anything but amiable allies at the current moment.  The entire situation with UFC 151 left a sour taste in the mouths of everyone involved, including the fans, fighters, promoters, and even the MMA apparel brands that surround the sport.

Just before the situation exploded, Nike had signed Jon Jones to a global endorsement deal, the first of its kind for an MMA fighter.  This was a big deal for the MMA fan base, especially since his reputation had been tarnished due to an unfortunate DUI incident not too long ago.  

Rumors of a shirt collection, signature shoe, and more were circulating, which vaulted the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion even further into the spotlight.  Pictures of the first “Bones Knows” shirt were released, continuing the legacy of the first-ever “Bo Knows” shirt from Nike, which represented the legendary athlete Bo Jackson.

In the other corner, we now have the iconic MMA clothing brand in TapouT, doing a similar project in the name of Jones’ nemesis in this story, Chael Sonnen.  Recently released is a shirt by TapouT called “Sonnen Says,” mocking the theme of the Nike shirt.  This move by the masterminds at TapouT definitely acts as a taunting jest at “Bones,” although it is in fact a brilliant move from a marketing standpoint.

Despite the growing buzz about both shirts, and even after the first-ever UFC event cancellation (and the public’s reaction towards Jon Jones), Nike has chosen only to print 80 of their “Bones Knows” shirts.  The shirts were originally supposed to be given away via Jon Jones’ Facebook page before the UFC 151 event, but the subsequent cancellation of the event prevented the giveaway from happening.  We may end up seeing such a giveaway leading up to UFC 152 instead.

Looking at the other side of this battle between brands, TapouT has chosen to print 500 of their “Sonnen Says” shirts, putting them a step above Nike in this rivalry that has spurned from the Jones/Sonnen UFC 151 debacle.  These tees will be available for purchase.  What are your opinions on the matter, from both sides of the story, and from both companies’ perspectives?  Do you think this is a smart move by TapouT, and do you see this rivalry continue?  Which shirt (or both, or neither) are you planning on getting your hands on?

TapouT “Sonnen Says” shirt is available here: http://www.fighterstyle.com/tapout-sonnen-says-shirt/

Guest post by Michelle Goede from FighterStyle.com

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