KITCHENER -- A Kitchener mask and respirator manufacturer has announced a global, multi-year partnership with the mixed martial arts organization UFC.

O2 Industries will be providing UFC athletes who choose to wear them with respiratory products at every event.

The partnership begins the weekend of Sept. 26, and will feature O2 branding in certain UFC events for the remainder of the year.

“This partnership with O2 Industries is an amazing opportunity for both of our brands to reach consumers who would value this product,” said Paul Asencio, UFC Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships, in a news release.

“We are all learning about the potential health and safety benefits of respirators and masks in these challenging times, and UFC provides an enormous platform to help communicate that message to a global audience.”

The Kitchener company started after the founders, Peter Whitby Jr. and Rich Szasz, were travelling in Asia and experienced the effects of poor air quality.

O2 isn't the first Waterloo Region-based PPE manufacturer to make a splash since the pandemic began.

Kitchener-based education technology company InkSmith pivoted early on to begin producing face shields under the brand The Canadian Shield. Meanwhile Trusscore, a start-up company based in Waterloo Region, got a shout-out from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for their innovative solution to over-capacity hospitals.

Eclipse Innovation in Cambridge, whose parent company is Eclipse Automation, also pivoted early to start producing N95 masks. Premier Doug Ford visited the factory back in July to announce a $1.4 million investment.