Most of the accusations are from managers and fighters saying they will be losing thousands of dollars in sponsorship money when they are required to where Reebok, and only Reebok, the week of their fights and in the Octagon. The policy is set to go into effect on July 6, 2015.
The fighters are compensated for wearing Reebok produced apparel based on a tiered structure according to how many fights an athlete has while competing for the UFC. The fight count also includes any bouts a fighter had while competing for Strikeforce or the WEC after those promotions were under the ownership of Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company.
The pay structure is arranged 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
The tiered system applies the same to male and female fighters.
Aside from fighters complaining about losing money in the deal, one other accusation that has made waves recently is UFC bantamweight fighter Sara McMann’s claim that there could be gender inequity inherent in the way that fighters are paid.
“If you look at the numbers and you look at the facts, there could be a strong case for gender inequity in the way this deal is presented,” McMann said during a recent interview on The MMA Hour. “I think the UFC and Reebok would never want to be perceived as somebody who was treating an entire gender poorly.”
The UFC women’s bantamweight division debuted in the Octagon in early 2013, while the strawweights began fighting for the promotion midway through 2014. By contrast, the latest men’s division to enter the UFC ranks was the flyweight class, which began in early 2012.
“The women are just recently added, but that doesn’t mean that these girls haven’t been fighting for years or been in other sports for years and they don’t deserve to be compensated for that,” McMann said. “They deserve $2500?”
UFC president Dana White has commented on some of the dissatisfaction of fighters who have complained about the loss of sponsorship money, saying it’s part of the evolution of the sport and that, overall, it will be a good deal for them.
Although it didn’t name McMann, the UFC also issued an official statement on the recent gender inequity claims, pointing out that the outfitting policy is being applied equally to men and women.
“The new UFC Athlete Outfitting Policy (AOP) equally recognizes each athlete’s tenure in UFC, as well as any bout appearances in the WEC and Strikeforce for the period those organizations were under the Zuffa, LLC ownership,” UFC officials said in a statement to MMAWeekly.com.
“Women fighters with limited bouts under the tenure model are treated the same as other experienced men or women new to UFC from other organizations not included in the tenure model. This new policy was designed to provide an equal opportunity for both men and women in each tenure tier.
“In addition, the champions and challengers, regardless of tenure, will be equally compensated under the AOP for their bouts, something few other sports can claim.”
McMann felt so strongly about the issue of possible gender inequality in the way the policy is being applied that she said she would be seeking legal counsel on the matter.