These days everyone wants to get behind the troops, but unfortunately it’s not always for virtuous reasons.
The current climate of troop love reflects a paradigm shift from the soldier-bashing Vietnam era, but let’s be honest: A lot of people carry the military banner because it’s fashionable or they want good PR points.
So when you see a company that’s owned by military vets spend money on soldiers, it’s a good bet that it’s sincere.
Ranger Up has been supporting soldiers who want to make it in MMA for the past three years, and even though none of its athletes is wearing UFC leather, the company has no regrets.
“The guys in the company come from military backgrounds, so it just makes sense for us to help out fighters who also have a service record,” Ranger Up President Nick Palmisciano told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Obviously, every apparel company wishes they had TapouT-level money to throw around, but we’re still a small company and have to be selective. We respect anyone who gets in the cage, but we directly support the guys who have sworn an oath to defend the constitution and who embody the core values of honor, integrity and loyalty.”
Two of those guys will step into the octagon at UFC Fight Night 18 on April 1. Jorge Rivera was an Armored Cavalry Scout in the Army, and Tim Credeur was a Naval Officer. Both will be wearing Ranger Up as a tribute to their fellow soldiers and sailors around the world.
“MMA and the military go hand in hand,” Credeur said. “There are a lot of guys who fight for our country and then they want to fight professionally, but there aren’t a lot of sponsors out there willing to support their dreams because they don’t have a good enough record or they’re not in a big show. So I think it’s great that there’s a company willing to get behind military members and help them achieve their goals.”
Ranger Up currently supports former Marine Officer Brian Stann, Army Sergeant Damien Stelly (who will be fighting on Bellator’s April 17 card), Army Sergeant Andrew Chapelle, former Army paratrooper Matt Dunlap, Army Specialist Kris McCray and former Navy veteran Dale Hartt. Ranger Up has also had a long relationship with Army Staff Sergeant and Green Beret Tim Kennedy, who just returned from another overseas deployment and will be fighting full time again this summer.
“When I first heard of them, I thought they’d be like every other company trying to make a profit, but then I met them and got to know them and realized they were different. They didn’t just talk a good game. They backed it up with actions.”
Actions such as taking Matt Hughes to Walter Reed Army Hospital to visit wounded soldiers in cooperation with the Ultimate Warrior Challenge, transporting those same wounded troops to a live fight, and raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project, even when they couldn’t afford to. While they’re not capable of raising $4.5 million for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund like the UFC did in December, Ranger Up goes out of its way for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“There was a time when we first started out that we couldn’t really afford to send them any money because we weren’t making any.” Palmisciano said. “We literally weren’t paying ourselves at the time. But we did anyway because we felt their cause was that important.”
It all boils down to a couple of guys doing what they can to support those who support us. Apparel companies sponsoring fighters is a common business tactic that’s at the core of MMA because it’s one of the few ways fighters can make money. But from the juggernaut of the sport, Tapout, down to the smallest clothing designer in a garage, they all have to choose who they’re going to invest their capital in wisely.
For Ranger Up, a single question makes their decision easy: “Did you serve?” It’s a streamlined selection process that’s appreciated by the guys who answer “yes.”
“I respect Ranger Up for getting behind the troops who want to fight,” Credeur said. “I wish there were more companies who did that.”
Ranger Up is the longest running sponsor of FiveOuncesOfPain.com. Kelly Crigger is the author of this article, which originally appeared on MMAjunkie.com. It appears on Five Ounces of Pain with expressed written permission from MMAjunkie.com and cannot re-purposed without their consent.