UFC Ditches Media-Driven Rankings for Tenure in New Uniform Deal Payouts

April 20, 2015
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The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s decision to partner with Reebok for a new fighter uniform deal has garnered its share of supporters and haters alike.

The deal makes Reebok the sole apparel provider for the UFC and fighters will, as of July, be required to wear an official uniform manufactured by the sports apparel maker. There will be some options for fighters to choose from, but the biggest shocker to most of them was that they would be unable to wear individually sponsored apparel and would no longer be allowed to drape a sponsor banner in their corner during introductions.

Jon Jones ReebokThe UFC argues that the deal will actually benefit the fighters, as significant individual sponsorship deals have mostly dried up and are difficult to maintain. The Reebok deal is supposed to replace those individual sponsors with a more sustainable revenue stream, while giving the UFC a more mainstream, professional look akin to other major sports leagues.

The UFC-Reebok deal is a six-year, $70 million agreement, according to SportsBusiness Journal (SBJ).

One of the more contentious parts of the deal was how the money would be divvied up amongst the fighters. The initial plan was to use the media-generated official UFC rankings to identify tiers of fighters that would be compensated depending upon which tier they reside in.

In subsequent discussions with fighters, managers, and cornermen, UFC officials told SBJ that the rankings idea didn’t go over so well, which led to a distinct change in that approach.

The UFC will instead use a tiered system based on how many fights that an athlete has while competing for Zuffa; a much more objective standard than the highly subjective fighter rankings.

SEE ALSO > VIDEO: Paige VanZant Shakes Her New Reeboks Deal with the Bee Gees

The new system will put fighters into categories of 1-to-5 fights, 6-to-10 fights, 11-to-15 fights, 16-to-20 fights, and 21 or more fights. The number of bouts will not only include UFC bouts, but also World Extreme Cagefighting and Strikeforce bouts.

One notable exception to the tiered system is that champions and challengers will receive a bigger payout regardless of what tier they reside in.

The UFC-Reebok uniform deal goes into effect on July 6, 2015, just in time for International Fight Week in Las Vegas, and prior to the promotion’s summer blockbuster, UFC 189.

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  • Seth

    Well…it’s way better idea then go let someone else decide how much money will fighters get.

    70m in 6 years…11.6m a year, with 44 events a year it makes 260k per event. Around 26k per fighter…Im not sure how current sponsorships works for them and we dont know what the difference between 1-5fight and 6-10fight etc – but for now it looks decent, with the intel we have.

    • Sir_Roy

      Only the 26K will not be divided evenly. Some prelim fighters will be left with a very short ended stick.

      • Seth

        First “and we dont know what the difference between 1-5fight and 6-10fight etc”
        Second, thats 260k per event, not 26. Like I said, we still dont know the exact system but I doubt some 5-2 guy gets a lot of money from individual sponsorships. I wouldnt be shocked if at the end that hurt bigger guys more – guys who are main card guys for a long time, but not quite top tier.

        • Sir_Roy

          I realize it’s 260K per event. I’m saying the 26K per person will not, in fact, be 26K per person as the 260K will not be divided evenly.

          • taylor2008

            You are right. I think some fighters will get screwed.

      • TheCerealKiller

        Prelim fighter don’t get squat from their sponsors anyways, nobody sees them. I remember reading about a guy that got stiffed by a sponsor $300 for wearing their trunks. This sounds pretty good for the new fighters and the fan favorites that only win half their fights.

    • Bob

      actually it says that its going to be distributed according to categories and and title holders will get more

      • Seth

        …I wonder if people will ever start to read comments they are replying to…all I said is that this idea looks good so far, though we don’t have exact details on it. I just did rough math on around how much they will have to divide on each card. Didn’t say they will be equaled, because article says it won’t, come on, guys…

        • TheCerealKiller

          I’m also hoping this encourages guys to take more fights instead of fishing for a payday. I guess the downside would be someone not pulling out of a fight if they were injured.

          • Seth

            Yup. Agreed, though I doubt they will fight injured anyway – in long run its better to stay as healthy as they possibly can, right?

  • Darin

    Tibau, Koscheck, Mir, Bisping, Sanchez, Cerrone….all happy mofos over this.

  • Gerald

    Please proof read your article before you post it. Far too many errors.

  • John

    “…significant sponsorship deals have mostly dried up and are difficult to maintain.” This is because the UFC is slowly but surely going in the tank, and not many businesses want to throw good money into a sinking ship. The business is in steady decline and will soon be extinct unfortunately.

    • earlsimmons

      I dont think its unfortunate at all. UFC has turned into a money hungry circus over the last couple years so hopefully it will go under and something new and better will come up and the cycle will start over again.

  • Steven Lanier

    Not a very good system at all. Dripping with favoritism and against the very essence of what martial arts is. I no longer support Zuffa.