The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s long-rumored uniform deal has come to fruition, as the Las Vegas-based promotion has signed a 6-year agreement to make athletic apparel company Reebok its exclusive outfitter.
“This will be the biggest non-broadcast partnership that our company has ever signed,” UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stated in a release, “so it is significant.”
According to a release, the apparel line will include “Fight Week” gear as well as a “Fight Night kit.” The “Outfitting Policy” will officially be implemented on July 6, 2015, to align with International Fight Week. At that point, athletes under promotional employ will not be allowed to wear other sponsor logos at official UFC events. Additionally, sponsor banners will not be allowed during walkouts or inside the Octagon at that time.
“We’re bringing our commercial growth -- the UFC brand and our athletes together -- so it’s a win-win for all of us,” Fertitta said. “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 of these sponsors . . . that aren’t blue-chip, Fortune 500 companies.”
While exact financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, fighters will receive “the vast majority of the revenue.” Compensation will be determined by a five-tiered system based on the fighter’s ranking at the time of weigh-ins. Champions will be paid the most, with pay scale then rewarding fighters ranked Nos. 1-5, 5-10 and 11-15. Unranked fighters are in the fifth and final tier. The UFC’s rankings are voted upon by a selected media panel; Sherdog.com does participate in the process.
Athletes will be able have other sponsors outside of official UFC events. However, those sponsors will not be allowed to use UFC trademarks “unless they have a direct commercial relationship with the UFC.”
According to UFC President Dana White, the agreement should create a greater sense of financial security for all fighters within the promotion.
“Whether you’re at the top of the heap or the bottom, you know every time you step in there, you’re getting paid,” White said. “You have a sponsorship. It’s more incentive to get bigger and get better.”
In addition to a guaranteed sponsorship income for each fight, athletes will receive 20 percent royalty payment for any merchandise sold bearing their likeness. They will also have input on color and style of the apparel kit.
“We feel like we’ve created a (sponsorship) program that will be as much, and in some cases, more than (some fighters) are currently making,” Fertitta said. “They’re still going to be able to keep their other sponsors, so we look at this as being additive. On top of that, they get a royalty for anything that gets sold that actually has their name on it.”