Prior to 2014, fighters from the MMA world came over to WWE. The first man to do that was Dan Severn. His classic bouts with Royce Gracie set the stage for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Others on the list of cross-promotion athletes included Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, and Rampage Jackson. However, Shamrock and Severn are the only two to do both and make a name for themselves.
The year is now 2015 and two huge names are beginning to transition their career to the octagon, rather than a four-sided ring. CM Punk broke the internet with his decision to sign with the UFC at the UFC 181 pay-per-view. Before Punk’s huge decision, the WWE never considered the UFC as competition. Now, the story is a bit different.
After Punk, Alberto Del Rio, former-WWE champion, expressed interest in MMA. In fact, Dos Caras, Jr. revealed that the UFC and Bellator approached him on the grounds of fighting for their promotions. Because of the big splashes by both men, WWE fans will follow them anywhere. Unfortunately for the WWE, that is away from their scheduled TV programming.
To try and attract a whole different audience, WWE is on the verge of a groundbreaking sponsorship. According to Wrestling News Source, the WWE and Tapout, UFC apparel giant, are in talks to sign an exclusive contract.
Mixed Martial Arts apparel giant Tapout is rumored to be working on a deal to become the exclusive sponsor of the WWE. The news comes on the heels of Reebok becoming official apparel sponsor of UFC.
In response to the rumor, WWE issued the following statement to PWInsider.
“WWE is exploring several partnership opportunities, however we have nothing official to announce at this time.”
If Tapout becomes exclusive to WWE, then the game would officially change between WWE and UFC. Many fighters in the UFC have Tapout as their sponsor. On every single fight card, Tapout can be seen from a banner, t-shirt or advertisement on the network. UFC and Tapout have a lot of history.
WWE has always done their merchandising internally. Brock Lesnar is the only exception, who wears his personal sponsor, Jimmy John’s, on his trunks that he wears in the ring. Other than that, it’s WWE apparel all the time.
Now, if the deal does get completed, then WWE Shop might go through changes. Tapout will become the exclusive “outside” sponsor. So, WWE merchandise would not go away entirely. The designs that Tapout offers will be seen exponentially more. 2015 is already off to a big start in the WWE and UFC realms. A deal this large would only make the WWE metaphorically explode.
[Image via bleacherreport.com]