Respect Your Universe (“RYU”) is no longer a Mixed Martial Arts (“MMA”) brand, what they are is still yet to be defined. Lets take a look at the rise and fall of RYU in MMA.
The new CEO of RYU said “That direct association with the sport and the UFC has ended. Endorsement deals with individual fighters and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) expired in December and will not be renewed.” He continued “The MMA community is a small market, even when I ran Sports Authority I didn't want anything to do with MMA brands. There's not enough opportunity."
RYU started off as a concept with an amazing management team. In April of 2010 RYU became a publicly traded company under the stock symbol “RYUN”. RYU was listed on the Pinksheets, which means they were still a development stage company and did not meet the assets or market cap to be on the OTCBB or an even more prominent stock exchanges like AMEX, NASDAQ or the NYSE.
The company began to form around executives with solid backgrounds. We are talking about former Nike, Armani and Lululemon executives. The team looked poised to take over the MMA apparel market.
I never had the chance to work with RYU but what I saw on their mission statement made a lot of sense. They were not just another MMA Lifestyle brand, they were planning on launching functional, organic and sustainable clothing. There is no question that MMA is a great proving ground for this type of concept. Countless numbers of top name professional Martial Artist have suffered from viruses that live in most MMA gyms. For some these are life threatening or career ending diseases.
What did not make sense is they seemed to focus on athletes that did not promote this aspect and to my knowledge none of their signed athletes were affected by any health issues. A perfect candidate for a brand like this would be a guy like Cole Escovedo. Well known, hard working and his plight with infections from training almost cost him his life and surely altered his career path. His blessing would carry more weight than a Jon Fitch, who likely is better known than Cole but is not going to move more products.