The unofficial dress code for front-row viewing at a major fight night — as in big-league boxing — used to be furs, slithery dresses, diamonds, and even suits and tuxes further back.
Case in point, ringside at the 2015 Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, Beyoncé donned a red deeply V-necked Harbison jumpsuit and Jay-Z sported a Champagne-colored tuxedo jacket with a black bow tie. Celebrity sightings are routine at major fights. Drake, Nicki Minaj, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Mark Wahlberg, Idris Elba, George Lopez, Mike Tyson, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf have showed up on occasion.
Now, the UFC, the world’s leading mixed martial arts organization, and the French men’s retailer Celio have teamed up with much more relaxed options for a limited-run collaboration. The deal was brokered by UFC’s licensing agency IMG. It’s too soon to say whether any IMG models (many of whom know the ins and outs of Paris well) will be at the Sept. 2 match, when France’s Ciryl Gane will square off against Moldova’s Serghei Spivac, according to an IMG spokesperson.
UFC and Celio are working together to mark the UFC’s return to Paris for the occasion. The heavyweight bout will be held at the Accor Arena with Gane going into the showdown ranked first and Spivac, eighth. Gane will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd for the second time in two years.
Celio aims to maximize that exposure, having signed up the French heavyweight as a brand ambassador. Gane also has endorsement deals with DFNS Sneaker, the eco-friendly label Apparel Care and Gym King.
UFC fans and shoppers don’t have to wait for the opening bell to get in on the merchandise. As of Monday, the UFC and Celio will offer what they described as “fan apparel” that features original designs that will only be available through Celio stores in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, as well as the chain’s online hubs and approved e-commerce sites. Jackets, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, jogger pants and caps will be among the styles with retail prices ranging from 19.99 euros to 45.99 euros.
The two UFC fighters can expect a percentage of the sales — a spokesperson confirmed fighters are compensated for merchandise featuring their image and likeness.
Partnering with the Endeavor-owned UFC offers inroads to a large base. The UFC boasts more than 700 million fans and the fight is among the 40-plus live events that the UFC holds annually and broadcasts to more than 900 million households in upward of 170 countries. And Celio extends its own reach with more than 1,000 stores and expansion plans for India from a sourcing standpoint and a retail one.
While attendees at next month’s fight and those watching from afar can dress however they choose to, UFC fighters take their cues from the MMA organization. In a recent interview, fighter Diaz, who is a free agent, suggested that fighters should be able to wear whatever they want instead of wearing clothing chosen by the UFC. Last year the UFC signed a sponsorship deal with the actor and entrepreneur Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Project Rock for the UFC’s official footwear and co-branded styles.