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Venum Brasil wants to be brought into fold, says UFC doesn’t have rights in country

Jose Aldo (GC) Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

UFC’s new apparel deal kicked off Thursday as the Reebok era ends and the Venum era begins. But according to one man, the latter still has to figure out one hurdle when it comes to Brazil.

Brazilian businessman Andre Vieira was a co-owner of Venum before the company split into two different entities on Jan. 4, 2016. He now owns the rights to the brand in his native country while Franck Dupuis, his former partner, is the CEO in charge of Venum’s global business operations.

The UFC called Venum its “exclusive global outfitting and apparel partner” in July 2020. The first Venum-outfitted card is scheduled for UFC Vegas 23 on April 10 in Las Vegas.

But if the promotion wants to do business in Brazil, Vieira said, his company needs to be brought into the fold. He said he reached out to UFC’s parent company Endeavor as soon as the deal was first announced and was told the company wasn’t aware of the existence of two Venum companies.

“I’ve contacted them, said I was open to negotiations, that I’m not here to be a problem,” Vieira told MMA Fighting. “Quite the opposite, I’m here to add and be part of the business, and so far I haven’t gotten any return [call].”

A UFC official told MMA Fighting the promotion is looking into the matter and declined further comment.

Brazil has been one of the biggest markets for the UFC for over a decade, producing champions and stars in multiple weight classes as well as promoting several sold-out events. The promotion’s last event prior to the pandemic took place in an empty arena in Brasilia, Brazil.

Vieira said the UFC’s partnership with Venum doesn’t allow the promotion to sell merchandise or have athletes wear the new fighter kit during events in Brazil. He said he has no intentions of escalating the matter just yet, but could do so if the promotion refuses to respond.

Venum has previously gone to court to defend itself against claims made by other clothing makers. In 2014, apparel giant Nike sued Venom for trademark infringement, claiming the MMA company’s name was too close to a Venom trademark it filed six years prior to Venum’s mark.

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