Known for fighting anyone at anytime in the cage and participating in envelope-pushing extreme sports out of it, UFC lightweight fan favorite Donald Cerrone has parlayed that notoriety into quite the lucrative set of sponsors heading into his UFC 187 bout with John Makdessi from Las Vegas this Saturday (May 23, 2015).
But those sponsorships, which include high-paying deals with high-profile companies like Budweiser and Fram, are set to dry up when the UFC’s controversial sponsorship deal with Reebok goes into effect at International Fight Week this July.
Several fighters have understandably spoke up about the large amount of money they’re going to be missing out on, and company man Cerrone is no different; in fact, he’ll probably be hit harder by the deal than almost all UFC fighters. Speaking in an interview with Yahoo! Sports this week, Cerrone proclaimed that he stands to lose a whopping $60,000 per fight under the new pay structure:
“Per fight, yeah, I’m going to take a little bit of a cut, sure,” Cerrone admitted Monday. “I think my pay grade with the Reebok deal is, $20,000, or $22,000. So, comfortably, [I’m] saying that I’m going to be losing $60,000 a fight probably.”
But ‘Cowboy’ also enjoys the security of his main sponsors having signed on to sponsor the UFC on the fighters’ Reebok uniforms, meaning they won’t be releasing him like many other companies will do to their once-sponsored athletes. In that sense he’s lucky, and he’s even more fortunate in that his Budweiser deal pays him yearly in addition to translating to out-of-the cage opportunities:
“Budweiser, along with Fram and others are on board with the UFC and Reebok, so I kind of lucked out. I got lucky and all my sponsors are sticking by me. We’ll figure how to make it work outside of the UFC. No, I’m not going to be making the big money on the fights like I am now but it’s all going to work out.
“Budweiser is a year deal with me, so I guess fortunately for me I’m getting paid regardless.”
Indeed he is lucky for being able to keep his high-paying sponsors even once the policy goes into full effect, because that’s a luxury many fighters will not be enjoying as it costs them very substantial amounts of sponsorship dollars they once enjoyed. There’s going to be a lot of figuring out to do as the still-developing program works out the kinks of its infantile stages, yet Cerrone believes that the whole program will end up being a great avenue for fighters to ensure they get their sponsorship money:
“I think the Reebok deal…you know, the first couple of fights, the first year, is gonna be kinda shaky ground while they figure everything out,” he said. “But I think it’s awesome. And like I said, there’ s a lot of people that were looking for sponsors and who were fighting for $500.
“Now they know – I mean, I don’t know how the pay is gonna work, but I’m sure the UFC is going to send a check, or Reebok is going to send a check right away. It’s not going to be like fighting for pennies again; knocking people out and then calling, ‘Hey, it’s been 90 days, where is my check? I don’t have it. I need it.’ So, it’s going to be good for everybody and once they figure everything out, I think it’s going to be just fine.”
Ever the company man, it’s easy for Cerrone to say that things are going to be ‘just fine’ when his main sponsors will continue to back out of the cage and emblazon his uniform when he’s in it. Those are luxuries few fighters are going to enjoy in this unknown era of Reebok sponsorship, and the unknowns of the deal have a lot of fighters not surprisingly up in arms about where their money will come from.
But hey, all they have to do is fight as many times as Cerrone does, and the paychecks, whether they be from fight purses or sponsors, will keep rolling in regardless. Right?
Unfortunately for most, it’s just not that easy, meaning the next year could be a confusing one as the massive sponsorship deal settles into a happy medium for both the UFC and its many competitors.