Though the new uniform/apparel deal between the UFC and Reebok has its share of both detractors and supporters, UFC executives on Wednesday made their cases for it being a good deal for the fighters.
The new apparel deal, in part, requires UFC fighters and their corners to wear UFC and Reebok co-branded uniforms during their fights and in the official lead-up to the bouts. The fighters are to be compensated for meeting the requirements of the Athlete Outfitting Policy – as it is officially called – via a tiered compensation structure based on the number of fights he or she has in a combination of UFC, Strikeforce, and WEC bouts.
As confirmed by the UFC, the payout structure is as follows:
- Fighters with 1 to 5 bouts will receive $2,500 per fight
- Fighters with 6 to 10 bouts will receive $5,000 per fight
- Fighters with 11 to 15 bouts will receive $10,000 per fight
- Fighters with 16 to 20 bouts will receive $15,000 per fight
- Fighters with 21 bouts or more will receive $20,000 per fight
- Title challengers will receive $30,000 per fight
- Champions will receive $40,000 per fight
It’s made some fighters happy, while others are not, but UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta on Wednesday said they did their best to take the fighters’ wishes into account.
“We took a lot of information from a lot of fighters, communicating with them and a lot of people in the industry, and ultimately came to the conclusion that we felt compensating the athletes based on tenure was the best way to do it. It’s clear-cut, black and white and could not be influenced by anyone at all,” said Fertitta.
“We believe that the introduction of this outfitting policy is very beneficial for the athletes. It’s an investment we’re making as a company and we think it’s going to create long-term value for the athletes, the UFC brand and for the sport. It’s going to provide guaranteed income for each athlete for each fight, thus eliminating the burden of acquiring sponsors and ultimately having to go and try to collect payment on a per-event basis.”
Fertitta went on to explain that all the revenue the UFC derives from the Reebok deal is being distributed to the fighters.
“We essentially looked at the compensation tiers, and they were based on the distribution of the revenue from the Reebok contract to the athletes over the next five and a half years. The only revenue coming through from Reebok that is not included to be distributed to the fighters is being used to cover direct operating costs for this program.”
The UFC’s chief operating officer, Lawrence Epstein, indicated that in talks with fighters at all levels of tenure and accomplishment, and that most seemed pleased with the deal and its structure.
“I’m sure there will be those that aren’t excited about the policy,” said Epstein. “But I can tell you that the vast majority of athletes that we’ve spoken with are excited about the opportunity.”
The Athlete Outfitting Policy officially begins the week of July 6, 2015, which coincides with the UFC’s International Fight Week in Las Vegas.