According to a July 2022 article by Forbes journalist Joe Walsh, a record 2.8 million AR-15 and AK type rifles entered the United States in 2020. Who is buying them?
“MMA fighters and fans definitely do,” said Derek Pitera, owner of SC Arms, a registered Type 01, Type 03 and 07 ATF gun dealer. Pitera trained in martial arts on and off for ten years and started his firearms business eight years ago.
His clients include UFC legends Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez, as well as sponsored athletes, such as 2019 ADCC runner-up Nicky Rodriquez, 25, UFC 9-1 middleweight Joe “Bodybagz” Pyfer , and the 15-0 UFC welterweight fighter Sean Brady.
Pitera’s earnings for its first year of operation were $7,000. Today, his business generates between $6 million and $10 million a year, largely through the sport of mixed martial arts.
Former UFC and Bellator fighter Dante Rivera has worked with Pitera for years, as Pitera sponsors their gym and several athletes who compete for Rivera’s MMA team.
Rivera’s fighters often compete in the CFFC, or Cage Fury Fighting Championship, a regional mixed martial arts promotion whose fighters often graduate from the UFC and other global promotions, which Pitera has also sponsored.
As Pitera’s income has grown, so has his support for the sport. Aside from word of mouth, his sponsorships and investments in MMA athletes, their gyms and their promotions have been his only marketing expenses.
And speaking of CFFC, if you watch their events on UFC Fight Pass, you’ll see a custom Troy A4 AR-15 that Pitera built for the promotion, using “Cerakote,” a thin-film, ceramic-like protective coating. paint.
Although the UFC banned gun and ammunition sponsors in 2012 and then removed all athlete-owned sponsors with their Reebok uniform contract in 2014, these fighters’ love of guns remained unchanged.
Alexander Gustafsson is an avid hunter, as is recent UFC retiree Donald Cerrone, who shoots regularly at his BMF ranch in New Mexico.
Jon Jones, arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time, said via Instagram on July 17, “Time on the range is always time well spent.” In 2014, Jones told former Bleacher Report senior editor Jeremy Botter that guns were his “only hobby”, not for self-defense, but as an outlet for his competitive spirit.
At the time, Jones owned 12 assault rifles.
Then there’s Valentina “The Bullet” Shevchenko, the current UFC women’s flyweight champion. Shevchenko has a Glock-17 tattooed on his chest.
Shevchenko has been an avid shooter since 2008, even taking part in an 8-hour shooting tournament in July. “I need my body to work like a Glock,” Shevchenko told Women’s Health in November 2021.
Former UFC fighter Daron Cruickshank, who competed for the organization from 2012 to 2016, told The Atlantic in 2019 that he “spent it all [his] UFC money on guns!” The 34-year-old competes in the Xtreme Fighting Championships and is also a competitive shooter.
Some of these fighters listed here represent a small but influential class of professional fighters with a passion for firearms, whether for practical purposes, competitive use, or home defense. Pitera believes the two worlds are inextricably linked and plans to continue to reinvest in the sport.