Our friend Jonny Testa at Askmen.com had the chance to interview Punkass of Tapout. Punkass had some very interesting things to say, especially about how Tapout built an amazing and very profitable relationship with the biggest show in today’s MMA, the UFC. Here’s Punkass’s story about how Tapout’s relationship with the UFC all started:
“Well, that happened because we knew this guy called Eddy Millis and he had a gym out in Rancho Cucamonga called the Shark Tank. He introduced us to Monte Cox who was managing a bunch of fighters in the UFC around 1998 so we started sponsoring a couple of those fighters. We were paying Cox a couple hundred bucks for each fighter that he was managing in the UFC to wear our t-shirts. Through that relationship we got to know the previous owners of the UFC, which were Bob Meyrowitz and Paola Romero; she was running the UFC at the time. We had many conversations with them and we would just throw ourselves out there and ask how we could help promote the UFC because we wanted the sport to blow up, we wanted the UFC to blow up, and we were somewhat riding their wave while also creating our own wave. So we would ask them for flyers for their up and coming shows so we could put in orders for t-shirts to sell at those events, we would also pass out flyers at the many other events that we would attend. At the time the venues were small, you would have maybe 3000 people that would be showing up at the fights at the time and it was illegal in most states so we were just trying to help them however we could in that type of guerrilla ground floor marketing. When Zuffa bought the UFC, we introduced ourselves to them and they said they loved what we did and how much we helped the sport the way we did because we were pushing it in every direction that we could in that sort of grassroots marketing. They said they wanted to work with us to keep that integrity because they believed that what had kept the sport alive for so long was that grassroots marketing that was alive on the internet and the small shows that were taking place all over, so they wanted to keep that alive and we were their doorway to that level.”
Like most businesses, it sounds like Tapout didn’t have any special connections or truck loads of money when they started. They had to grind on nothing and make it into something. Big things don’t start big, they are grown big and it takes an amazing amount of time, effort and believing in yourself and your concept to make it happen. Some people may say that Tapout was just lucky because they were in the right place at the right time. Well, by the philosopher Senca’s definition of luck, that would be true. Seneca said, ”Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Tapout was preparing themselves and their business early on. When that opportune moment came along, they were ready to take advantage of it. For that they deserve every drop of success they have achieved. They earned it.