By Jason Moles
We’ve seen as many MMA sponsors come and go over the last few years as we have fighters themselves, and with a few notable exceptions, they haven’t had much, if any, impact on the sport. That’s all about to change with the launch of FundAFighter.com, which helps fighters raise money to cover the costs of their training camps, travel, nutrition, or other MMA-related projects.
Developed by Tristar Gym‘s Firas Zahabi, the new site supports fighters in the planning and execution of “crowdfunding” campaigns in which they solicit donations directly from their fans in exchange for unique incentives like event tickets, autographs, fight-worn gear, or whatever rewards they are willing to give their backers. Oh, and did we mention that CagePotato veteran Mike Russell is handling PR for FundAFighter?
If the concept sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a reason for that — and it’s not just because crowdfunding is how we got Karmaatemycat to the TUF 14 tryouts last year. From the press release:
When late, great former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner waved away corporate sponsors to instead give his fans the opportunity to contribute financially to his training camps in exchange for tangible rewards like signature shirts and autographed gear, his novel idea was met with praise from both fans and the media. Evan’s groundbreaking concept was what would later become known as crowdsourcing, more specifically crowdfunding – two methodologies whose names weren’t even coined until a year after he began practicing them.
Inspired by Tanner’s simple idea, this exciting and groundbreaking initiative was developed by Tristar Gym owner and revered MMA trainer Firas Zahabi and noted Montreal based entrepreneurs Robbie Stein and Greg Hoffman. The goal of Fund a Fighter is simple: Provide fighters with an alternative means of raising money for their next MMA-related project, while giving fans an alternative way to interact and support their favorite fighters. Think of it like Kickstarter for MMA.
That sounds pretty badass, but how will the impact the sport going forward?
“Zahabi thinks the new venture will change the landscape of the sport for the better, removing a lot of the financial roadblocks fighters face when preparing for fights, like affording travel, hiring coaches, and making sure that their nutritional needs are being met.”
Nice. So what fighters can fans currently sponsor?
“The company also announced today that FAF’s first two approved fighters with active fundraising campaigns on the site are current UFC featherweight Joey Gambino and The Ultimate Fighter 13 veteran, welterweight standout Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil.”
It all sounds pretty awesome when you think about it. We love watching great fights, and want these athletes to have everything they need to show up on fight night healthy and ready to put on a Fight of the Night performance. What better way to help make this possible than by becoming a member and donating a few bucks? C’mon, we both know you’re going to, even if only for an autographed jock strap.