When the blockbuster deal between the UFC and Reebok, the athletic apparel giant who will to create the all-new uniforms and sponsor each and every fighter come July, was announced, fans, media members, and especially fighters were skeptical.
Many fighters were angered at the idea that they would have to do away with the rest of their sponsors because of the UFC’s deal with Reebok, which would most likely result in them losing money, but nothing was clear right away.
Originally it was announced that fighters would earn sums from the deal based on rankings, with higher-ranked fighters obviously earning more than lower-ranked fighters. Backlash soon followed this idea, and it was recently reported by the UFC that earnings would now be based on a tenure system, with fighters having more fights in the UFC earning more money as opposed to newer fighters. The reactions to this announcement have seemed to be mixed.
Today (May 6, 2015) the fine details of the huge deal have finally been made clear as the UFC has announced the specific earnings amounts each tier of fighters will earn, which can be seen here. Fighters with between one and five UFC bouts will earn $2,500 per fight, while fighters with six to ten bouts will pocket $5,000. Combatants with 11-15 bouts will earn $10,000 per match, 16-20 will result in a $15,000 reward, and 21 plus bouts will result in a sum of 20,000. Moving on, title challengers will make $30,000 per fight, while champions will haul in $40,000.
So is this deal really as beneficial for the fighters as the UFC says it is?
Overall, that doesn’t appear to be the case initially. Of course it’s unknown exactly how much each and every fighter makes from their own personal out-of-the-cage sponsors, but we would have to think it’s more than what the Reebok deal will reward them with.
This deal is especially detrimental to newer fighters. It makes it difficult for them to get ahead making a measly $2,500 from sponsors, when they could be going out on their own and attaining multiple sponsorship deals with different companies to help them get off the ground. The costs of a training camp, diet, and travel is a huge burden on a fighter, and they not only should be able to, but one hundred percent have to, make the amount of money necessary in order to complete these routine requirements of a professional fighter.
There is also the fact that the fighters with the most fights may not deserve more than some fighters with a lower amount of fights. For example, Gleison Tibau has 25 UFC bouts, and will make more than most fighters, besides champions and challengers.
Now does Tibau really deserve to make more than say Conor McGregor?
Of course we all know McGregor makes quite a bit of money from his many sponsorships outside of the Octagon. He will also challenge Jose Aldo for the featherweight belt in just over two months’ time, but currently the Irishman only has 5 UFC bouts, which would technically result in him earning $2,500 per fight despite being one of the biggest stars in the UFC.
Is that fair?
According to the UFC (via ESPN’s Brett Okamoto) these tier earnings are only minimums, with amounts hopefully increasing in the future, but as of now the details of this are unclear:
UFC says tiers are ‘minimums’ now, hopeful to sign more deals that could increase amounts … but single event sponsors are ‘separate.’
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 6, 2015
Some fighters have also took to twitter to voice there opinions on the deal. Surging heavyweight Matt Mitrione believes the deal actually hurts the fighters and will result in bad press:
— Matt Mitrione (@mattmitrione) May 6, 2015
Many believe fighters should be allowed to handle their own sponsorships, and many fighters understandably agree with that point of view. The idea of creating uniforms and a brand in order to make mixed martial arts more like the NFL or the NBA and more mainstream is decent, but the truth is, fighting is not the NFL or the NBA.
Although there are camps and teams, fighting is essentially a one-on-one competition and different than any other mainstream sport. That probably means a decent amount of fighters will find the deal more restrictive than beneficial, and all they can do to make more sponsorship money is win and win often.