The latest step in the mainstreaming of mixed martial arts will apparently be seen on Jon Jones’ trunks at UFC 151.
“I’ll probably have a Swoosh going across my butt,” the UFC light heavyweight champ told FOXSports.com on Friday.
Jones said he’d be decked out from head to toe in Nike gear as he enters the Octagon against Dan Henderson at the Mandalay Bay on Sept. 1. The Nike deal is the first of its kind for an American fighter in a sport that has increasingly seen more recognizable sponsors – including Bud Light – in recent years.
“We can confirm that we have a relationship with Jon Jones, but (we're) not getting into any more detail at this point,” Nike spokesman Brian Strong said in an e-mail to FOXSports.com.
Jones said he had been angling for a Nike deal since 2005.
“That was my goal and it’s come to pass,” Jones said. “I was patient, persistent and I always believed it could come true. It motivated me to push hard and I did it. It’s a giant step for Nike, too, as well as UFC and all the other fighters. It shows them they can conquer their goals. If I can get a company like Nike, it shows them they can do it, too.”
UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva has a deal with Nike Brazil, but Jones’ deal appears to be much more expansive and include Nike’s first line of MMA apparel that will be available for purchase at US stores.
“It’s huge,” UFC president Dana White said. “It’s really big.”
This was hardly a singular effort, as White explained last weekend after UFC 150 in Denver. Ari Emanuel, White’s agent and co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor talent agency, called Nike founder Phil Knight to help broker the deal, White confirmed.
“Ari Emanuel is the real deal,” White said of the agent portrayed on HBO’s “Entourage.” “When he makes phones calls, (stuff) happens. It’s exciting.”
White, however, apparently misspoke when he said the addition of Jones’ MMA gear comes as Nike shutters the Manny Pacquiao clothing line. Strong said that’s not the case.