Dustin Poirier talks to Boardroom about his endorsement portfolio and his approach to business outside of the octagon.
Dustin Poirier is laying the blueprint for how young fighters should market themselves. Inside the UFC octagon, the Louisiana native has compiled a record of 29 wins and seven losses, with 14 knockouts and an interim UFC lightweight championship. Those accolades may already be good enough to one day grace the UFC’s sacred hall of fame. However, outside the cage, the “Diamond” is building a unique portfolio of major brand deals with global companies.
Alongside training for his next fight, Poirier changes lives through his foundation, The Good Fight. The non-profit organization mainly serves the surrounding areas of Lafayette, Louisiana, and was started by Poirier and his wife, Jolie. On top of his charitable work, Dustin ventured into the CBD field with REAP CBD and has blazed a spicy trail through the hot sauce business with Poirier’s Louisiana Style Hot Sauce.
Poirier has also sealed deals with apparel company Robert Graham, beverage company Celsius, and luxury watch brand Timex. Seemingly, Poirier has mastered capitalizing on his in-cage performance in the business world. But what’s his secret to tying down deals in MMA with scarce major sponsorships? Speaking to Boardroom, Poirier discussed how the Timex arrangement happened, what to expect in the future with the brand, and the key to securing big deals as a combat sports professional athlete.
Boardroom Q&A: Dustin Poirier
RORY ROBINSON: For those unaware, tell people exactly what your position is at Timex.
DUSTIN POIRIER: I was just a sponsored athlete. Timex came over and became the official timekeeper of the UFC. Timex has been around a long time, and they picked up a few athletes who had big fights coming up. I signed a short-term contract with them. I was just a talent underneath the Timex banner. Also, I’m a watch guy, so they sent me a bunch of cool watches, and it just worked out.
RR: You’re one of the guys at the top of the UFC in terms of popularity with the fans, but do you know any of the particulars for why they decided to reach out to you specifically?
DP: I’m not sure. Sean O’Malley had a deal with them going into his fight in Abu Dhabi against Peter Yan. Maybe because they wanted to put their brand and name on a fighter with exciting upcoming contests. When it comes to Sean O’Malley, many people know his name and want to see him fight. And he was fighting a massive fight over there on Pay-per-view. And then, of course, me fighting Michael Chandler. You know, it was going to be a crazy fight as soon as it was announced. So they might have seen an opportunity with a fighter who had been in the UFC for a while. Fans knew who I was, and I had an exciting fight coming up in the timeframe. They made sense.
RR: Man, let’s be real here. Dustin Poirier has the sauce (no pun intend). What is the secret of success when securing these brand deals? Regarding your relationship with brands, they’ve all been immense, like Robert Graham or Samsung.
DP: I would say 95% of the deals I’ve done are with companies because I used their product previously. They’ve seen me somewhere in an interview using the product or in a picture, and they reached out to me.
You know, I’ve never chased any of these companies. They’ve always come to me because they’ve seen me wearing a watch or a hat. The Samsung deal, for example. I was on Joe Rogan’s podcast. We started talking about my phone, and he told me I needed to switch to Apple. I told him I’d been a Samsung guy for a long time. The following month I got an email from Samsung, and the list goes down the line of companies that have reached out to me.
Same thing with Robert Graham. I was wearing their shirts to press conferences. They said, ‘Hey, we see you wearing our shirt. We’d love to send you some stuff,’ and it started like that. We started doing business together months later. So it’s been organic. That’s the key — to use the products I’m talking about. I’m not just grabbing things and holding them for a picture. I’m using these products, so promoting them is easy because I have them with me.
RR: The UFC Timex collection is about accurate, durable, and innovative timekeeping. Which fight stands out in your career that displays those qualities? When you were the most accurate and durable. When you were creative inside the cage.
DP: Two pop out immediately. The second Max Holloway fight and the second Conor McGregor fight. I was just on time. I was in rhythm, and I was durable. War ready.
RR: Do you still have that love for the Robert Graham brand? Regarding different design collaborations you could do with Timex, maybe a Robert Graham-pattered Timex watch could happen.
DP: I would love to do that. I’d love to do some colorful band, some funky pattern. I love that stuff. If I could steer the direction of a Timex watch, I would do some colorful themes on the band. Something simple on the case, so it’s easy to read the time. But the band would be something very loud.
RR: Although you’re just starting with the brand, what do you see happening with you and Timex in the future?
DP: Hopefully, we will get back on the phone soon. I made a three-month contract with them. That’s the first deal we’ve done. So hopefully, there’s more to come.
RR: What advice would you give young fighters who aim to replicate your success? Not in the octagon but in navigating marketability and the business world.
DP: Be true to yourself. When looking at companies you want to work with, look at companies that fit your brand. Or even your training. Things that you use right now.
Young kids can look in their bags at what they like to wear. Those brands you need to wear and do business with because that’s true to you. Those are the things that make it easier. You’re not going out of your way to lie, and fake promote something. It is easy to do because you’re wearing or you’re using it.
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