And1 throws its kicks into the cage

The company best known for its ties to Escalade, Hot Sauce and The Professor is now getting involved with The Rock. And1 developed its brand on the grass roots level of street hoops. The And1 Mixtape Tour has made stars out of players who aren't good enough to play professionally but flashy enough to fire up streetball fans. The sneaker company is now trying its hand in the mixed martial arts world by backing UFC middleweight Nate Quarry. He'll have an And1 logo on his shorts in his fight against Demian Maia at UFC 91.

Quarry, an Oregon native, has grown tight with Portland Trailblazer Steve Blake. Blake has worked jiu-jitsu with Quarry during the off-season. Blake knew that Quarry needed sponsorship dollars and pitched him to his sponsor And1. The tricky part of the deal is that Quarry can't actually wear the company's main product, sneakers, while he competes:

"On paper it almost makes no sense whatsoever. I can't wear basketball shoes into the octagon," Quarry said with a laugh. "But And1 believes it's great exposure for their overall brand. They are big fans of the sport and the whole company is excited about it."

NBCSports reports Quarry is the first MMA athlete to secure a sneaker sponsor:

In addition to Blake and Quarry, the company counts Golden State Warriors’ star Monta Ellis, Houston Rockets’ guard Rafer Alston, and ex-NBA guard Carlos Arroyo (currently playing with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv) among its athletes.

It is interesting to read that And1 Director of Marketing Rod Keller said the company looks for quality people. Quarry is definitely a good character. The same can't be said for And1 player Kenny Brunner. Brunner has been arrested on numerous occasions including the time that he threatened someone with guns and samarai swords.

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