…And no, I’m not talking about Forrest Griffin. The person I’m referring to is Gary Ibarra. If you recognize Gary’s last name, it’s because he is Rampage Jackson’s trainer, Juanito Ibarra’s, cousin. Gary isn’t part of the team that helped Jackson prepare for his UFC Light Heavyweight title defense though. He is, however, trying to make waves in the MMA industry with his new clothing line, Graffight. In doing so, he has set up a blog to share all the highs, lows, breaks and obstacles he encounters in the pursuit of his dream.
I’ve found his blog to be incredibly fascinating for a few reasons, but the biggest one is because he’s taking a huge risk and going for it. Gary’s making it happen, and doing it in all the right ways. How many of us have hated our jobs at one point or another? Likely the vast majority. I know I have. Better question? How many of us have a dream and actually go after it? Not many.
Gary’s one of the few that are, and I find that very admirable.
Thursday evening upon receiving our sample run of 300 shirts back from the printer the realization of what we’d become hit me like a ton of bricks. I had taken my idea from a thought, a stupid dream and 8 months later I was holding an actual finished product in my hands. I think everyone has that moment when they realize their idea is no longer an idea, it has become reality. And no matter what happens I can say I tried, I didn’t play it safe, I took the risk, I got further than most people ever would because they’re too afraid to try.
UFC 86 wasn’t just a big weekend for the champion and the challenger, it was also a big weekend for Gary and Graffight. With his clothing line almost ready to go on sale, it was time to promote and where better to do than a major UFC event in Las Vegas?
With samples, cards and media kits in tow, Gary sought out to make valuable contacts, build important relationships and promote his brand.
Later on I caught up with Dana White and we talked for a bit, he is really a great guy too, he wished me luck and told me if I needed anything to let him know, he said he dug the shirts also, awesome.
On my way to the pool though I got a chance to talk to Herb Dean for a few minutes, he was a really nice guy, I gave him my card and asked him if I could send him some shirts, he said if I sent them he’d wear’em.
I went to get a beer when I ran into the competition, Punk Ass looks so much bigger on TV, doesn’t he? He was a really nice guy too.
After that I was sitting in this booth next to Razor Rob and Tiki, then I got this pic with Daniel Cramer, John Alessio, and Zach Light. The night was really successful promotion wise and all these guys were really accomodating, great people.
…I had a meeting with Jake Hattan from Denaro Sports Marketing about sponsorships…
Jake also introduced me to Tracy Lee, she’s a photographer, a writer, and she has a site called Combat Lifestyle.comwhere she chronicles the life of the fighters outside the ring.
After that it was time to head home, looking back on the weekend and all the things that happened I thought we had gotten a good start on accomplishing our goal of becoming an established brand in the business. I was completely out of cards and media kits. I learned a few things, met some really cool people, and more importantly, I had a good time doing it.
Of course, not everything went entirely according to plan.
So I made my move but I noticed Tito was by himself at the table so I figured well Tito by himself in a picture would be good enough. I reached over to him but there were people behind me pushing from all around, the club was obviously packed. I had my hand out to shake his hand, I got less than 3 feet from him when he looks at me with this mean kinda look on his face and says “DUDE” and points to my right. I look over and Jenna Jameson is laid out flat on her face, I had knocked her over trying to get to Tito, which sounds a little weird, knocking over the biggest porn star of all time to get to another guy, but its the truth. My expression immediately changed from happy to in fear for my life!
Nice one, Gary, that’s hilarious.
If you’re at all interested in the business side of MMA or need a little inspiration to chase your own dream, I highly recommend you check out Graffight’s blog. It’s a great read and gives insight into what it takes to break into the mixed martial arts industry. I promise you, once you’ve read through it, you’ll find it hard not to root for Graffight’s success.
Don’t we all love a good underdog story?