UFC, NZ Rugby at odds over silver fern request to City Kickboxing

Auckland's City Kickboxing is resisting a request from the UFC to remove the silver fern logo from its fighters' uniforms, including middleweight champion Israel Adesanya who next weekend also fights for the light heavyweight title against Jan Blachowicz.

ESPN understands the UFC was contacted by someone at New Zealand Rugby [NZR] over concerns around the use of the silver fern insignia and had since been working to resolve the issue, despite NZR insisting that such a complaint had not been raised.

"NZR has not had any communications with the UFC around the use of our logos," a spokesperson told ESPN. "We are supportive of all sports people representing New Zealand."

NZR has used the silver fern on its national jerseys since the late 1800s but officially registered the logo with the New Zealand Trademark Office in 1986, the words "All Blacks" added beneath the silver fern in 1991.

NZR and the UFC appear to be at odds with each other as to what has actually transpired.

But having originally been contacted by the UFC to inform him of the need to make the uniform change, CKB owner Eugene Bareman on Thursday fronted a press conference to vent his frustrations.

"The UFC is stopping us from using the silver fern because they have been contacted by the All Blacks and asked not to use it because it has been trademarked," Bareman said.

"We represent our country with pride. No one owns the silver fern."

Bareman said all New Zealanders should be able to don the logo on the world stage.

"Nobody owns that symbol. Everybody who represents our country internationally earns the right, especially my guys, and obviously I'm biased, to represent their country and wear that symbol," Bareman said.

"It's a symbol of national pride and of national importance."

The City Kickboxing boss took the approach of displaying photos of Richie McCaw, the great All Blacks captain, to help make his point.

"Here he is again, the great himself, bloody and bruised in battle, representing our country like he always has as captain from a very young man," Bareman said.

"Now, look, here's some of our guys, doing the same thing. It's probably worse, wouldn't you agree? Here's one of them in hospital straight after the fight.

"Here's us, being proud of our country, we're proud to represent our country, and every opportunity we get, we try and represent our country."

Bareman, whose charges include UFC middleweight champion Adesanya, lightweight Dan Hooker and flyweight Kai Kara-France, said the logo was something every one of his fighters wore with pride on the international stage.

"We wear it on our uniform, we wear it with great pride, and it doesn't matter whether you were born in Nigeria or Samoa, it doesn't matter where you come from, " he said. "It's very important to us. It's something that we represent.

"The All Blacks don't own the silver fern, they cannot stop us from wearing it, we're going to wear it regardless. Richie McCaw could walk in here today with his band of lawyers, and try and stop us, and I would like to see him try.

"It's not going to happen."

Shortly after the press conference when a number of Bareman's fighters had also expressed their disgust at the situation, CKB released a statement saying they had since been contacted by NZR to rebuke the suggestion that the complaint had come from them.

"We're really heartened to have been contacted by the All Blacks really quickly this afternoon, who have informed us that no one from their legal team or management team has been in contact with the UFC," a CKB statement read.

"They've reassured us that they've very much supporters of New Zealand teams and New Zealand sports 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."

The UFC is yet to make a formal statement.