Kill Cliff FC

Kill Cliff CEO John Timar talks sponsorship of Kill Cliff FC

The sport of MMA is ever evolving. Compared to other sports such as baseball and soccer, MMA is still in its infancy. The UFC and other organizations do a good job of promoting some fighters but making it to the big show sometime takes more than just talent. There is so much that goes into a fighters training camp, from expenses, good coaches and training partners, nutrition, and more. All of that takes a toll on a fighter both mentally and financially. To have support in these regards is unmeasurable. That being said finding the means to help with these areas can be difficult. That is something that the beverage company Kill Cliff is looking to help with.

Kill Cliff is a clean energy drink company that has recently taken over one of the biggest MMA teams in the world. Kill Cliff FC, formerly Sanford MMA, houses some of the best fighters in the world including Robbie Lawler, Gilbert Burns, Michael Chandler, and more. The addition of Kill Cliff as the primary sponsor came about organically. CEO of Kill Cliff John Timar sat down with My MMA News to talk about the partnership.

“This one seemed like a really cool opportunity for us because at Kill Cliff, myself other people there, we all train so we’re already enthusiasts in the sport we already trained, it’s part of our lifestyle, but the opportunity to take on the naming rights and kind of rebrand this large gym that has 80 fighters and fights every weekend around the world in UFC, Bellator, ONE, PFL, and others, it was a unique opportunity to really get the brand out there through a lot of organic assets in the MMA media,” Timar told My MMA News. It’s a really strong look for the company that we and what we’re trying to build. So, it’s kind of just was one of those opportunities, it was like we looked at I was like, this is probably one of the better ways that we can grow and build our brand awareness.”

The addition of Kill Cliff as a main sponsor of the gym is that it allows for necessary updates and improvements to be made.

“We’re updating the facilities down in Florida so there’s a lot going on with that,” Timar said “And then we’re gonna get our cadence down and began to build and invest and grow and try to do as much as we can to support the team. So I think that type of stuff is, it’s in the future.

In MMA sponsorships are the lifeline to being able to compete. When the UFC brought in Reebok as the main sponsor many athletes needed to get rid of other outside sponsors that they may have had for years. The cost of training, food, recovery, coaching, and more really adds up and for those fighters who are not champions or at the head of the divisions making ends meet may be a difficult path. Kill Cliff sponsors some of the biggest names in MMA including UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, but they are now able to help out so many more than that with Kill Cliff FC.

“For the appeal to us as a small brand, it’s trying to make as much noise as possible. We have right now, somewhere in the realm of 80 fighters, they’re fighting throughout the year,” Timar said. “So, you have fighters fighting every single weekend, they’re in the press, and it’s an opportunity for us to build brand awareness. So that’s a good thing for us, but we don’t in any way plan to prevent the people in the team from getting their own sponsors. We want our team to be really successful. And if someone goes out and gets a ticket, they are there on our team, but if they have a different dream sponsor, we don’t care. We’re not going to keep the fires from going out and trying to make money for themselves. We’re just the name of the gym, they train out. Yeah. They just get a little clarity.”

One member of the new Kill Cliff FC team Li Jingliang, spoke a bit about the new brand takeover in his pre-fight interview at UFC Long Island. 

“It is a good thing for our sport, I would like to see more brands spend money on this sport and sponsor our sport, that’s a great thing for us,” Jingliang said. “I think we should show more to those big brands to see how popular our sport is and show the sportsman’s spirit we have, the warrior spirit we have from our athletes.

“We’ve kind of kicked off the new era and mixed martial arts where you start to see these gyms attract sponsors, and it allows the gyms to really nurture the fighters and the community,” Timar said. “This is one of the ways in which the gyms can grow and thrive and, and bring on a whole new era of young fighters.

There is also a big nutritional aspect to the partnership. Kill Cliff prides itself on being a clean energy drink for athletes. Fighters in particular need to be wary of what they put in their bodies. The UFC athletes are at the mercy of USADA and must undergo drug testing at random. The highest level of fighters watch what they eat and are very strict in their nutrition, Kill Cliff sees this.

“There is there’s a big nutrition element to it and what we’re finding is a lot of these fighters their health and their diet are obviously a big part of being elite athlete, being able to perform at that at that level. There are there many of them that we’re not even really consuming energy drinks prior to our brand because of just the lack of actual clean, good-for-you options. We’ve changed that with the team. A brand where you have a premium product using premium ingredients, and you’re in a hyper-competitive category.  That’s kind of what the larger experiment is, for us in terms of when we took this on? Yeah, there was alignment with our brand, there’s alignment with our interests, and there was a massive audience where you could see the attributes of where we grew up being applicable to that the attributes of this new audience.”

This is a giant leap forward for MMA. Kill Cliff and its sponsorships could pave the way for more big brands to take on a bigger role in MMA. The sport has never been as popular and the athletes who fight each and every day are the ones that should prosper. Perhaps in a few years, we will see rivalries like Kill Cliff FC against another branded gym, with all fighters, involved happy and thriving.

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Nicole Bosco