Go back 10-12 years to the height of the MMA boom and there might be a dozen or more apparel brands seen on a weekend’s pay per view. Now, for better or worse, UFC has a single apparel partner and many of the fighters on the UFC roster have little to no merch at all. Many of the former sponsors of MMA athletes have since gone out of business or left the MMA space altogether. It’s these situations that birthed the ideas behind Tee KO.
Tee KO launched its website (TeeKOstore.com) in April of 2020 with t-shirt stores for seven fighters – Tim Sylvia, Jon Fitch, Jesse Taylor, John “Doomsday” Howard, Anthony Njokuani, Tyson Griffin and Leonard Garcia. Since then many more fighters have been added to the #TeamTeeKO roster including Alexey Oleynik, Hannah Goldy, Enson Inoue, Marco Ruas, Satoshi Ishii, John Lineker, Zoila Frausto, Stephanie Frausto, John Moraga, Ed Ruth, Rafael Carvalho and Liam McGeary. Recently Tee KO has even begun partnering with MMA podcasts and YouTube shows such as Cage Talk and In The Fight. And there’s always more on the way.
The goal was to provide fighters with an additional revenue stream to help support them while in training camps or while injured or in retirement. Fighters receive a percentage of every sale made in their store so fans can directly contribute to a fighter’s career and at the same time receive a unique, fun and affordable t-shirt.
Rather than a house design aesthetic, as has been the case with most fighter tees in the past, Tee KO works with the fighters to bring their personalities and styles to their t-shirt designs. Every fighter is different and their shirts should be too. When working with Tee KO, fighters are encouraged to provide ideas for their t-shirt designs and a design is never made available without first being approved by the fighter.
It was always important for Tee KO to provide a quality product and that didn’t just mean good fighters and designs. A starchy feeling t-shirt just wouldn’t cut it. Tee KO opted for soft, comfortable ring-spun combed cotton shirts.
Fight fans can all agree that fighters deserve to make more. Over time, Tee KO hopes to be a part of this change. Fight fans can visit TeeKOstore.com for all available tees or follow @teekostore on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for future announcements.