5 Minute Round with…Jeff Swanson, Knockout Merchandise

Posted: September 21, 2011 in Local MMA, Marketing, PR, Social Media

If you read this blog enough you know in addition to covering the business side of the sport I like to take a look into the various players that live within the MMA world (teachers, reporters, brands, etc).  Through a friend I was able to connect with part owner of a new MMA clothing brand.  Knockout Merchandise’s Jeff Swanson was kind enough to give me a bit of history into his relation to the sport, the focus for this new brand and how it hopes to stand out against some of the established players in the space.

Name:
Jeff Swanson

Martial Arts Studied:
I am a member of the Warriors Cove mixed martial arts school.  www.warriorscove.com.  We alternate between BJJ ground work on odd calendar days and standup work on even calendar days.  I have been training off and on between jobs and injuries for a couple years now.  I am at a gold belt 2 stripes.  Their belt ranking goes white, gold, red, blue, black.  I absolutely love the sport and the workouts I get at the Cove.

What do you like about Mixed Martial Arts?
As far as my own training, I get a lot more out of it than I anticipated.  I went in thinking it would just be a good workout.  It’s an awesome workout…. but I get a lot more out of it than just that.  The guys you train with become good friends that you keep in touch with outside of the school setting.  The whole structure entices you to set goals.  My first goal was to be able to grapple for 2 minutes without taking a break.  I now go 5 minutes at a time and then switch partners and go another 5… and another.  You can also set goals to go for your next stripe or your next belt.  You can set a goal to submit a workout partner.  You can set a goal to compete at a BJJ tournament or even in the cage.  You are never “done” setting goals and learning in the sport of MMA.

As far as MMA as a spectator sport, there is nothing better.  There is a feeling that you get when you watch the Super Bowl or a heavyweight prize fight in boxing.  I get that feeling every time I order a UFC bout on pay per view.  It’s even more intense when you watch a live fight and one of your training partners is in the cage!

What – if anything – would change about the sport if you could?
I think that MMA has done a lot to change its image from street fighting to a professional sport.  They require gloves, you can’t stomp on people or kick them when they are down,  you can’t pull hair, you can’t purposely gouge the face or go after fingers or toes, etc.  So, overall there isn’t much to change at this point. However, there are a few tweaks that I would consider.  I would allow elbows from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock.  I’m not sure how they came up with that rule.  I’m undecided on whether you should be able to knee your opponent when you are in north/south position on the ground.  Maybe allow knees to the shoulders, but not the head.   I would also have no problem with eliminating the foot stomp.

If I were in charge of the UFC events, I would have segments were the professional fighters demonstrate different techniques to educate the casual fan.  The more the fan knows and the better they know the fighters, the more they are going to watch.

The clothing MMA industry is certainly heating up and getting crowded.  What made you decide to throw your hat in the race?
I came into it sideways.  The majority owner of the company is a friend of mine – Jeremy Tebay.  I saw what he was doing and thought he had a great idea.  I talked him into letting me buy into the company and we become partners.  It’s been a blast getting involved in this company.  Both of us have more ideas than money, but with hard work and the right connections we hope to take our merchandise to the top!

What will you be doing to stand out from recognized brands like TapouT, Affliction and One More Round?
I’ll put it to you this way,  when I hear the word TapouT the images that come to mind are UFC and Jiu Jitsu.  When I hear the work “Knockout” the images that come to mind are UFC, MMA, Boxing, Kick Boxing, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo among others.  However,  the biggest crossover idea with the word “Knockout” is that it can also refer to women.  We are starting to sponsor the “Knockout” ring card girls at local events.  Women may not want to wear an Affliction shirt with skulls and lightning on it, but they may buy a pair of shorts with the word “Knockout” on the back.

The sport is heating up in terms of brand recognition and involvement during PPV events.  If you had an unlimited budget – what is your dream placement for your logo? Who would be your dream fighter to sponsor?
My dream would be to sponsor a local amateur that rises through the ranks, turns pro and ends up with a UFC title fight.  We could both live our dream together.  I would also love to hear the announcer at a PPV event refer to the ring card girls as the Knockout girls.  If that were to happen I think we would be doing alright.

Are you using any social media tools to promote your products (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc)?  Are you reaching new customers with those channels?
This is the area that we need to concentrate on the most.  We have a limited website and a limited Facebook presence at this point in time.  We are going to need some outside help in this area.  This is what makes this journey fun.  There are so many ways to get your name out there now, we just have to figure out what the best approach is.  I have a feeling that in the next year I am going to learn a lot about social media.

For additional details on the clothing line, what website should we direct readers to?
Thank you for the opportunity to get our name out there.  To all of your readers… let us know if we have a good idea here.  Check out our website and even if you don’t purchase anything, give us some feedback and suggestions. www.knockoutmerchandise.com

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Comments
  1. […] as much as a monthly mobile phone payment.  Not too long ago I wrote about the new clothing brand Knockout Merchandise.  I recently saw the following deal on their Facebook […]

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