Combat Sports

Rachael Ostovich: An Vitally Important Lesson on Athlete Branding

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Some have the urge to fight because it seems fun and because it’s a great way to make a living. For others, the urge to fight is in their blood as in the case of BKFC and UFC veteran Rachael Ostovich. The Hawaii native grew up watching her father, Bob Ostovich compete at the famous Superbrawl and other Hawaii regional competitions. Soon, a career in MMA came calling.

However, Ostovich would soon become known for her exploits outside the cage, and in turn, she was able to pick up valuable momentum inside it and have a reasonably successful career, even with her 4-6 MMA record.

Popular Beginnings

Her talents would land her on the critically acclaimed reality show The Ultimate Fighter, which she lost in her first bout but won in the final of the next season, TUF 27. She parlayed that into an underwhelming stint in the UFC that lasted 4 years. However, most of her impact came outside of the Octagon.

She had an extremely hard time in the promotion, losing three of her four UFC bouts by finish to Montana de La Rosa, fan-favorite Paige van Zant, and Gina Manzany. She did win her first fight in the Octagon in the TUF 26 finale, however. Those fighters that she lost to were not regarded as top of the division, and de La Rosa and van Zant are no longer with the promotion.

Her six-month PED ban for ostarine should have been enough to see her released from the organization, but her fan-favorite status kept her in the UFC’s doors for one more fight that she lost by finish yet again. She then moved on to bare-knuckle boxing, where she met star female fighter Paige van Zant in a rematch, which Ostovich won in a unanimous decision.

High-level UFC fighters don’t need to win consistently, they just need to win enough. More importantly, fighters must be able to build a sellable brand. Compare the popularity of the undefeated Jack Shore to Paddy Pimblett during the recent UFC fight night: both are fantastic fighters, but Pimblett has a much larger fan base. His outspoken personality and ability to relate to the common man draws fans in comparison to Shore’s workmanlike attitude that has failed to garner attention. This has even hurt Shore in the rankings, as he is still unranked in the UFC despite being an elite bantamweight.

Ostovich, a mid-level fighter at best, understood this concept in an era where female fighters fall by the wayside. She released exclusive content and played up her social media, and it seems other fighters have followed that playbook, both male and female.

Building Her Brand

It is no secret that Ostovich is one of the more attractive female fighters in MMA. Using her looks, marketing skills, and fighter resume, Ostovich has a social media following of close to eight hundred thousand profiles. From that, she has spawned a bigger paycheck from BKFC, a clothing brand, an exclusive fan site, and various sponsorship deals.

To be blunt, Ostovich didn’t have a significant first run in the UFC. However, she put on a dazzling display against Paige Van Zant in BKFC, something only made possible through the promotion of her image. In the modern fight game, it isn’t about who is the best. It’s about how well you’re able to market yourself and to build an authentic brand. Thus, Rachael Ostovich is a crucial lesson on how to open opportunities both inside and outside the cage.

The Paul brothers also come to mind, especially Jake, as two master marketers in Ostovich’s style. Jake was an amateur boxer looking to make money who threw himself against other Youtube stars and former big names in MMA, and now he has become a legitimate boxer with professional aspirations, according to those close to him. He may not be the best, but he took a lucrative opportunity and has potentially turned it into a professional career, just like Ostovich.

Most would forget Ostovich’s name in a blink, but she has made a name for herself outside of the Octagon in a myriad of ways. Don’t expect someone with Ostovich’s branding skills to go away anytime soon, either.

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