UFC Fighter Uniform Payouts to be Determined by Championships and Rankings

December 2, 2014
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The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Reebok on Monday announced the worst kept secret in mixed martial arts: UFC fighter uniforms.

The UFC fighter uniform deal has been in the works for more than a year, but finally came to fruition on Tuesday when the two companies announced a six-year partnership, but revealed no financial details.

Uniforms will be required for all athletes and their cornermen beginning the week of July 6, 2015, which coincides with the UFC’s International Fight Week in Las Vegas.

SEE ALSO: Reebok and UFC Partner to Provide UFC Fighter Uniforms and Fan Apparel

The uniforms have been developed by Reebok specifically for mixed martial arts, but won’t be unveiled until Spring of 2015. Fighters will have various options, including product styles, colors and fight night short styles including board shorts, vale tudos and skorts, which will be selected in advance of fight week.

38-Lorenzo-Fertitta-UFC-170-w-0358-478x270UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and company president Dana White were on-hand with Reebok officials for the announcement on Tuesday in New York.

“It’s going to help the fighters, because it is going to allow them focus more on their training and not have to run around to get some (sponsors),” said Fertitta.

The fighters will get paid on a per fight basis, as they will be required to wear the uniform and company provided apparel at all UFC fight week official events including fight night, UFC produced content, or other official UFC events.

According to White, “every penny” of the money for the uniform sponsorship, outside of operating costs, goes back to the fighters in the form of a tiered payout system with UFC champion’s garnering the “lion’s share” of the money. The rest of the money will be divvied based on the official UFC rankings voted on by members of the media. The next tier down from the champions will be fighters ranked 1-5, then 6-10, 11-15, and then non-ranked fighters.

As no financial details have been revealed, it is currently unclear how much money that equates to per fighter.

The type of event a fighter competes on will have no relation to a fighter’s earnings from the uniform deal. So whether a fighter is on a pay-per-view card, a Fight Night event, or on “Big Fox,” the amount will remain the same, based upon the fighter’s ranking at the time of weigh-ins for an event.

Fighters can still have their own sponsors within certain parameters. Existing or prospective apparel and non-apparel sponsors can use the athlete’s name and likeness, but may not use UFC trademarks unless they have a direct commercial relationship with UFC, and the existing or prospective sponsors cannot be represented during official UFC fight week events including fight night, UFC produced content, or other official UFC events.

Which mean that fighters won’t be allowed to use their shirt or shorts or anything else as a billboard for sponsors. Any sponsorship on the uniforms will be under the UFC’s directive.

This also puts an end to sponsor banners, the vinyl billboards that a fighter’s cornermen often draped over the fencing behind their fighter while introductions were being made.

The terms of the deal also include Reebok taking over production of official UFC fan apparel, with a fighter getting 20-percent of “anything with their name on it,” according to White.

Without out knowing the numbers, it’s difficult to know if this will be a net positive for most fighters’ financial prospects. It’s sure to benefit some fighters, while possibly hampering others.

It is one of the most valuable non-broadcast deals that the company has ever done. But at the end of the day, the UFC is hoping the deal lifts its brand to the level of other major professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA, which already have uniform deals that are controlled by the league and help build brand identity.

According to Fertitta, “I think it’s gonna elevate the whole sport in the level of professionalism.”

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  • Seth

    And…how’s that suppose to help? I mean, awesome – probably more money to the fighters (we will see if its actually “more”), so that’s great!

    But idea to base it on BS rankings that makes no sense is stuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupid. Come on, UFC, you can do better than that. It’s Bellator-IQ-Level idea :/

    • GrasshopperMMA

      There is definitely some holes in this plan. I can’t wait to hear what the fighters have to say.

      • Seth

        lower ranked guys are more often than not better fighters than those ranked above them. I don’t see how’s that fair, so I expect guys to speak up soon.

        • GrasshopperMMA

          True. Plus a lot of the lower ranked fighters have a larger fan base. That’s what advertising is all about appeal not rankings. We’ll see though still too soon to say much. I just hope it truly helps the majority of fighters.

          • DanaWhitey

            No. The UFC is pretty much hampering a fighter’s ability to be in control of his own intellectual property business.

            Other professional athletic orgs have been doing this for year. In the NBA, you can wear whatever basketball shoes you want but your bench cannot waive flags embroidered with Xyence or condom depot logos.

            The difference, however, is that basketball and baseball stars have a real market outside of the basketball court or baseball field to market themselves. Kobe can wear Nike shoes during a match and get paid. But a big chunk of his loyalties come from commercials endorsements outside of the court.

            UFC fighters don’t have that sort of luxury. And will never have any (go look at boxing. Manny and Floyd and Mike Tyson earned their lions share from prize money not loyalties..if boxing is any indicator, UFC fighters will never have the chance).

            Another way for Zuffa to control the fighters.

  • RoBeRtOe

    Too much power. Dance you puppets, DANCE!!

  • Rodrigo_Silva

    Or maybe Operating cost = cost to produce and ship the merchandise.

    • dumbdumbdada

      No and No

      Operating cost does not mean dividends…god you are dumb

      And no…operating cost does not mean cost to produce…god you are not as dumb as the dude above but still dumb.

      Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold – Operating Cost and Overhead

      That’s how things are accounted in real life for people that know anything about how business is run, which doesn’t include you two.

      Operating cost means fees and compensation to the UFC in connection with this. Obviously, UFC is the one who is brokering this deal so there is a broker fee to be paid (the same fee that would have went to the fighter’s agent). Also, what is Reebok exactly paying the UFC for? Loyalties for allowing them to use the UFC logo..etc…right?

      UFC would need to get a cut of that too to make the deal fair.

      Anyway, you two are dumb and should just stick to fighter bashing.

      • Rodrigo_Silva

        I’m going to guess you are a student. Operating costs in accounting terms does have a specific meaning yes. But when it’s used in a general sense such as this it basically means all of the costs associated with the product, thus lowering the 20% of the fighter income.

        Otherwise you’d have people saying 20% of everything they sell, less operating costs, costs of goods sold, overheads etc. It’s a mouthful and it lowers the impact of saying the fighters can earn 20% of the goods sold. So you just say operating costs as a generic term to cover costs.

        Good luck with your studying buddy.

  • Daily

    Besides some very low level fighters who may have had trouble coming up with sponsors now having a little bit more cushion, everything else about this stinks to me. More justification for me falling away from the UFC’s product. It’s a shame, I use to love it so much. It’s just a shell of what it was even 4 yrs ago.

  • Lorenzino

    “It’s going to help the fighters, because it is going to allow them focus more on their training and not have to run around to get some (sponsors),” said Fertitta.

    HAHA! No fighter “runs around” to do this. The fighter’s agent take care of things while the fighter trains. If you are so concerned about fighters focusing on fighting, why not pay them more so they can quit their day time jobs.

    “The terms of the deal also include Reebok taking over production of official UFC fan apparel, with a fighter getting 20-percent of “anything with their name on it,” according to White.”

    Before the fighters were coming in with Venum, Bad Boy, Hayabusha gis, shorts, shirts and were getting paid for wearing the apparel. Probably close to 100%.

    Now the fighters can’t sign deals with these companies, have to go through Reebok and must not receive 80% of the payout? Who gets the 80%??????? Reebok and UFC????

    I mean…this is what NFL and NBA have been doing for years, but the NFL and NBA stars get paid. UFC fighters don’t.

  • David

    It only means that UFC takes a peace of all fighters sponsers. Insteed of fighter get paid form there sponsors UFC give them one that gives a peace to the UFC.