Top Kiwi MMA gym City Kickboxing has thrown a verbal jab NZ Rugby's way over the right of UFC fighters to wear the silver fern on the global stage.
Before a press conference in Auckland today, CKB founder and top MMA trainer Eugene Bareman said he wanted to get an issue "out of the way" - he and his fighters want to wear the silver fern when they enter the octagon but have been told they can’t.
“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… 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.
“It's a symbol of national pride and of national importance.”
An NZR spokesperson told 1 NEWS this afternoon after Bareman's comments NZR have not had any communications with the UFC around the use of their logos and are "supportive of all sports people representing New Zealand".
The spokesperson added NZR are "protective" of their commercial intellectual property though, "including the specifically-designed NZR fern".
1 NEWS has also reached out to UFC for comment.
Back at the press conference, Bareman said his fighters – which include UFC middleweight champion and Nigerian-born Kiwi Israel Adesanya – have just as much right to wear the fern as the All Blacks do and backed up his argument with photos of rugby great Richie McCaw.
“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.
”Now look, here's some of our guys, doing the same thing,” Bareman added, showing photos of his own fighters. “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 and the rest of the crew in a CKB fighter’s corner at UFC events have worn jumpers that have a New Zealand logo on the right sleeve.
The golden logo features a silver fern and the letters ‘NZ’ inside an octagon.
However, Bareman said that logo may no longer be there unless he takes a stand.
“The UFC called me up and said we're changing the symbol. They said 'how it's going, Eugene?' It's great day, we're just going to change that symbol on your sleeves that you wear out to battle.
"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.
“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.”
Bareman admitted he didn't know where the fern used in his team's logo had come from and it could be a copy of the one used by the All Blacks but regardless, his team will continue to wear a silver fern when they enter arenas.
"We represent the country with just as much honour, just as much pride as they do. This is something we are very passionate about and we are not going to walk without the silver fern - trademark, copyright or nothing.
"The All Blacks need to contact me if we're in some sort of breach, talk it out with me and we'll figure this out."
The silver fern has been used by New Zealand rugby teams since 1888, however it has since become a national icon for many national sports teams and has been incorporated into their logos.