UFC asks New Zealand fighters to stop wearing silver fern

By Te Ao - Māori News

The UFC has asked City Kickboxing in Auckland to ensure its New Zealand fighters will remove the silver fern from their uniform.

City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman today claimed New Zealand Rugby asked UFC to do so - but the rugby body immediately denied it had done that.

Speaking to media at a press conference in Auckland this morning, Bareman said, “We represent our country with pride. No one owns the silver fern."

This comes ahead of UFC 259, which will see middleweight world champion Israel Adesanya attempt to win the light heavyweight title against Jan Blachowicz.

Kai Kara-France will also take part in a high-stakes fight and the new kid on the block, Carlos Ulberg (3-0) is due to make his UFC light heavyweight debut against American Kennedy Nzechukwu (7-1).

The rugby silver fern logo was designed by David Clark in 1986 and is trademarked by New Zealand Rugby.

But NZR media and communications manager Tony Robson said this afternoon that NZ Rugby had not had any communications with the UFC over the use of its logos.

"We are supportive of all sports people representing New Zealand but are protective of our commercial IP including the specifically designed NZ fern."

In 2015 New Zealand Rugby saw a public backlash when its silver fern logo was considered as an option for the New Zealand flag. But, after discussions with the Flag Consideration Project committee, the logo never made it as a final public option.

City Kickboxing Statement

Following the response from NZR, City Kickboxing issued a statement saying they are really heartened to have been informed that no one from the NZR legal team had made contact with the UFC.

"They reassured us that they're very much supporters of New Zealand teams and New Zealand sports teams going overseas. And that's heartening for us.

"We also want to reiterate that we're absolutely ardent supporters of the All Blacks and what they do for our country."