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TapouT at Least Partially Responsible for Diego Sanchez’s UFC Career?

(This picture is just another part of TapouT’s attempt to make you constantly feel like you are on mushrooms. That, and the paint and wigs and stuff.)

As much as we like to give the guys from TapouT a hard time about their TV show and their plans to make children’s furniture, we have to admit that they know what they’re doing with their off-the-wall personas and recognizable brand. And in an interview with USA Today’s MMA blogger, Sergio Non, they open up about their business (they expect to do “upwards of $100 million this year”), their history, and most interestingly, their role in Diego Sanchez‘s victory on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter”:

There could be a fighter, like in (TUF season-one winner) Diego Sanchez’s case — he was already primed and ready, but there was just that nobody that knew about him. Whereas we knew about him because we’re scouring all those up-and-coming, lower shows.

So when Dana White came to me and was like, “Hey, this is who we’ve got going on there, is there anybody we missed…” I was like, “There’s this kid, Diego Sanchez out of New Mexico, he’s crazy and he’s insane.” And actually, this story is a true story, he ended up bumping one guy off The Ultimate Fighter that was slated to go on there, plugged Diego Sanchez in, Diego ends up winning it at the 185-pound mark, further cementing us as talent scouts.

Wow. I guess that guy who was bumped knows who to be pissed off at now. Also in this interview we learn (two of) their real names — Charles Lewis Jr. (Mask) and Dan Caldwell (Punkass), while Skyskrape is apparently a mystery man who hails from parts unknown, much like The Ultimate Warrior — and they also comment on the nature of their relationship with the UFC.

There are people who allege that Zuffa or UFC owns a piece of your company. What’s your relationship with Zuffa at this point? Do they have an equity stake in your company?

Lewis: As of right now, we have — Punkass puts that into better words than me, he has those business words a little better off his tongue with me — but we’ve had talks about a bunch of different companies that want to invest or buy a part. As of right now, we have, how you say it, one…?

Caldwell: We have one equity partner right now and they’re a minority shareholder.

Lewis: The real story about (our relationship) with Dana White — we do work with (Zuffa). They really have a lot of respect for our ability to find up and coming fighters. We signed on through 2012 to be exclusive clothing sponsor of The Ultimate Fighter. … and we have a 2-year contract to be the exclusive clothing sponsor of the WEC, so in that respect we work (together). We have a lot of financial…

Caldwell: We have the same producer.

Lewis: Yeah and the same producer that produces The Ultimate Fighter for the UFC is the same producer — Pilgrim Films’ Craig Piligian — that produces our show for our channel, Versus. So there’s some ties in there and that’s where a lot of times where people are getting confused and thinking that they own Tapout or something.

So there you have it. The UFC doesn’t own TapouT. They are just very closely affiliated on a couple different levels. Glad that’s cleared up.

Cagepotato Comments

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kazja- August 9, 2008 at 10:58 pm
What a bunch of crap.

Go to for the true story about tapout.
Aaron- July 30, 2008 at 9:59 pm
***Edit*** Jon Fitch
Aaron aka Sherlock- July 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm
Could the bumped fighter be none other than John Fitch???
Mike Smith- July 30, 2008 at 4:01 pm
So, did anyone actually catch the part they said they're the official clothing sponsor of TUF until 2012. That means TUF will be on for 4 more years at LEAST .... they better learn how to switch it up more then just 32 enter, 16 stay.
CARGUYTX- July 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm
I know little about them and was kind of turned off by their antics but i watched the show a few times and saw that they really do help alot of young cats coming up in the scene, and they do have some connections through fighting, i saw one where Punk-ass and Matt Hughes were talking about training and fighting together.
Bootylam!- July 29, 2008 at 8:15 pm
Mask was an unlockable fighter on an old UFC[?] game, so I'm assuming he has some rep in MMA [even though I'd never heard of him] Then again, Ice-T was bonus fighter on that game, too. POWER, IT STARTS WITH P LIKE EEHHH!! [you better know the rest]
Xamot- July 29, 2008 at 7:14 pm
has anybody even see these guys fight? besides their fanatic interest in old pro wrestling and MMA what gives these guys the credentials (other than money) to be seen as insiders?

personally, i would like to see fighters getting in on owning and operating their own clothing businesses since it's their bodies getting wrecked to sell cotton tee shirts.
JamesChrist- July 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm
Besides, in about 6 months you'll see Tapout, Affliction, and all the other shirts at Sears next to the Miller Lite and AC/DC shirts. And then you'll all realize again that society rapes everything that you love. And then the emo kids'll start wearing it and, bands will be ufc themed and the warped tour will have fighting in a tent. And you'll pay to see Steve Caballero and Chuck Liddell sign autographs at a table sponsored by Target, and you'll go home and be pissed that you're a fucking rube.
Boneman- July 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm
To sell a can't be NORMAL....The TAPOUT crew figured this out quickly...

If any of you have ever been at a live show and you saw these three walk up....You definetly said "What-The-Fuck"...or "Who the Hell is That"...or a combination of both..

They have been attending MMA events for a long time and have created a huge network of contacts, and like them or not, are a very prominent figure in MMA. If I was a young up & coming fighter and not a 43 year old worn out Sambo freak, I couldn't think of a better crew to get me recognized...

Take it for what it's worth.."WHY BE NORMAL"...?
Blackleg- July 29, 2008 at 1:40 pm
Mask supposedly has a 2-4 fight record from a few years back. Read through the link Dex posted and you'll see it.

I wasn't behind them at first because of all the clowning and the whole dress-up thing. Having listened to their interviews, watched their show and heard them explain the reasoning behind it though I'm cool with it. I still think it's a bit silly but for Mask it's a serious form of self-expression. Punkass is a fairly sharp guy that just really seems to miss the mid-80's gangsta scene, 'Erf-quake' on the other hand just seems like a tool. I can't imagine he has any impact in their business other than comic relief. They are for real though, their shit was selling well before most folks had ever laid eyes on them.
kcabkcilsdemanpmipa- July 29, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Tapout has been around since the Late 1990's making small magazines and the clothing. I remember them selling the shirts at a midwest show out of a van in 01 . now there millionares. There not jumping on the bandwagon in the slightest. They paid there dues and then some.
LukeTheDuke- July 29, 2008 at 12:06 pm
I never really 'got' the TapouT crew, are they fighters? Are they supposed to intimidate people? Or are they just 3 jazzersizers jumping on the 2008 MMA Consumerism Bandwagon and owning a clothing line parallel to MMA? (i.e Affliction, Sprawl (not so much), but you get the idea.) I mean, are the masks and all the bullshit genuine? There's bullshit, then there's genuine bullshit.
Plain old Kevin- July 29, 2008 at 11:46 am
I like the Tapout crew, but I hate that Matt Majors and I hope he makes it to the UFCs 185 so Anderson can smash his face. Season 2 starts tonight I believe. I only saw a few episodes from the first season, but I will watch tonight. I am glad that they are doing well.
kcabkcilsdemanpmipa- July 29, 2008 at 11:10 am
Actaully it wasn't Jon Fitch....

It was Josh Burkman, and he wasn't bumped he had failed a drug test and thats what opend up the spot for Diego. And the Let Burkman be on Season 2
JamesChrist- July 29, 2008 at 3:55 am
Mask hates himself. He hides his ugliness under makeup. Hey, why does everybody hate tapout. So they're annoying, but at least they help. Man, Airwalks are at payless shoes, but nobody bitches about that.
Bill C.- July 29, 2008 at 3:07 am
What's with the ridiculous makeup these Tapout guys wear? I just don't understand what's with the outfits and face paint. Can somebody explain?
Me- July 29, 2008 at 1:46 am
Jealous LASUCKS? Jealous that you aren't a successful business owner making millions of dollars a year and having your own T.V. show?

Keep in mind I don't particularly like the TapouT guys much myself. Seen any of their videos when they were just getting started themselves?
LASUCKS- July 29, 2008 at 1:35 am
Tapout are a bunch of sellouts.
Their gear sucks - it's "lifestyle clothing" these days as opposed to actual fight wear.
They might as well team up with Orange County Choppers or something.
Fuck these (literally) clowns.
ZzFDKzZ- July 29, 2008 at 12:48 am
Haha oh man it was most likely Jon Fitch. He was in the airport when he got the called that he wasn't going to be on the show.
Dex- July 28, 2008 at 11:33 pm
Ok, I dug up that thread on sherdog, if anyone wants to see Mask on the front of the UFC video games. He looks alot different w/o makeup.
Dex- July 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm
Seeing that the UFC doesn't own TapouT there is no problem for them to sponsor Kimbo. Didn't you read the article. I have always respected the TapouT guys for finding and paying young up and comming fighters. Sooooo many of the fighters we enjoy watching have TapouT stamped all over their rise to success. We all owe them some thanks.

Here's some quick TapouT trivia:

The UFC has put out a few video games, and on all of the covers (except the new Undispuited 2009) Mask is on the front as the figher getting his ass kicked. There was a thread on sherdog a few months back showing a tattoo on Mask's left shoulder that matches. Do some digging if you wanna check it out.
Goldie Loc- July 28, 2008 at 11:03 pm
Isn't TapouT sponsoring kimbo? That's kinda weird seeing as Dana white has talked a bunch of shit on kimbo.
John Chandler- July 28, 2008 at 10:43 pm
Legend has it that Drew Fickett was also bumped off the show after Dana White and the Fertittas went to go watch him fight Kenny Florian, who they opted to include instead.
Tom- July 28, 2008 at 10:42 pm
The fighter they bumped off was John Fitch. He was at the airport to goto the show when he got the call that they bumped him off.
Rumbler- July 28, 2008 at 10:35 pm
I wonder how kazja13 feels about this...Hold on! I'll go see...