UFC Reebok Partnership Gives Fighters Raw End of Deal? (Let the Debate Begin!)

Since the earliest days of mixed martial arts, the odds have been stacked against the promoters trying to ensure its survival. Now the sport’s biggest promotion, the UFC, is following in the steps of other major sports as it teams up with Reebok for a fighter outfitting deal that will last the next six years and is worth $70 million. Both sides are hoping that this arrangement will bring with it more mainstream success for the sport. The deal goes into effect during July’s International Fight Week. However, there’s one not-so-small problem: a vast number of fighters, both men and women, are NOT happy. The outrage is thanks to the collaboration’s tiered fighter payout system pictured below.

courtesy of DeadSpin.com This chart not only includes fights under the UFC, but former competitor Strikeforce as well--a positive for women, since the UFC just created female divisions beginning in 2012, leaving Strikeforce as the biggest level for female fighters at the time. Please note, this pay is ONLY related to the Reebok partnership and does not include fight purses, etc... So how should we as fight fans feel about this? I personally take a Joe Rogan-esque stance (sort of). Along with having adequate health, more pay increases the chances that a competitor will get back in a cage. I don’t want fighter’s to suffer, but until the UFC fighters either unionize or get a pension of some sort, if they aren’t making enough from purses, this deal and/or other avenues, those fighters either need to get new agents, be more in control of their finances, or do something else. Many UFC fighters may lead very hard lives before getting their shot at the big time, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with splurging at times or buying nice things if they can be afforded. While I would like to know the size of the cut of the Reebok pie UFC execs are getting compared to their athletes, if those athletes can’t handle their money well, that is not the promotion's fault or problem to be concerned with. In my view as just another fan, fighters come first. They give us the sport we as fans all love. Obviously, going from having multiple sponsors per fighter to one for all will result in financial loss initially if you're a competitor, but in much the same way that the current TV deal with Fox led to more prestige, so will this Reebok partnership when compared to the “ever so popular” CondomDepot.com (actual sponor). Promoters: Pay your fighters and pay them well. These men and women are a large part, if not in some cases the sole reason you have what you do. Fighters: It’s not what you make, it’s what you save. To those who are signed with the UFC, Dana White is your boss, not your accountant.