The UFC has retooled their massive new Reebok endorsement policy.
Faced with some harsh backlash from many fighters when it was revealed earlier this year that athletes would be paid in accordance with their rankings, which placed them into tiers concerning their pre-approved fight uniform kits, the UFC has decided to switch the payment structure to one that takes into account their number of total fights instead.
The news, which was first revealed by Sport Business Journal, states that fighters will be paid based on the following levels:
“The new system places combatants into tiers of 1-5 fights, 6-10 fights, 11-15 fights, 16-20 fights and more than 21 fights. The only exception applies to title fights, as both title challengers and reigning champions will receive greater compensation. The UFC declined to share specific dollar figures for each class.”
That sounds like good news for the fighters and their management teams, who were largely confused and concerned by the new sponsorship deal with exact details still scarce heading into the program’s full unveiling at International Fight Week this July.
Many veteran fighters who weren’t necessarily highly ranked, such as longtime lightweight and post-fight bonus record setter Joe Lauzon, who stated that under the new pay scale, he would receive as much as an up-and-coming fighter who only had one or two UFC fights to their name:
I’ve had 17 fights in the UFC – am I going to be the same as someone on their first fight? And they’re like, ‘Yes.’ Joe Proctor trains at my gym,” Lauzon said. “He was on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ had a couple of (UFC) fights. He’s technically unranked; I’m unranked. But I make a lot more sponsors than he does. Looking at the new system, we’re going to be on the exact same page, which is pretty crappy. But I think as time goes on, they’ll fix it.”
Lauzon believed that the UFC would fix it over time, and they did rather rapidly, at least on the surface. The change was instigated by repeated and fruitful discussions with fighters and their management according to the UFC senior vice president of global consumer products Tracey Bleczinski:
“We’ve had some great discussions, and the fighters and managers have asked some terrific questions. There’s been some good debate.”
So UFC has listened to their talent and created a pay scale that is much, much more forgiving than the previously proposed one that only truly rewarded a precious few highly ranked competitors. The new deal will also take into account a fighter’s previous WEC and Strikeforce bouts, creating an excellent sense of brand loyalty that was noticeably absent from the deal’s initial proposal.
Do you think this new plan is a step in the right direction for the much-maligned topic of fighter pay?