While things aren’t set in stone, the current set up with the UFC’s Reebok sponsorship deal is that payouts will depend on the current position in the division. With fighter pay being a sliding scale based on the voting of a ranking panel, many media members have chosen to drop out from the panel. Any talk about potential conflicts of interest isn’t the only issue that people have brought up since the details of the deal came to light.
Fabricio Werdum, who currently has champion status after winning the interim belt against Mark Hunt, says that the current set up may not benefit UFC up and comers.
“It’s not 100 percent set how it’s going to be, but I think that for those who are fighting for a long time, who battled for a good position in the rankings, the champion or the top 10 fighters, will benefit from that,” Werdum was quoted by MMA Fighting as he spoke to the media in Brazil. “I think that it’s not good for the up and comers, but maybe is a motivation for them. It will motivate them to get to the top.”
“Since I’m in a better position, I think it’s great. I worked hard for this. For those who are starting now, you have to work hard.”
It’s not just about ‘working hard’ though. There are many long term UFC fighters who have paid their dues and made names for themselves throughout the years. While they may not be top contenders, they currently earn significantly more sponsorship money than newcomers. Such is the case with popular, albeit unranked, lightweight in Joe Lauzon.
When the Reebok deal officially starts, his position in the division may mean a significant drop in sponsorship pay. As one of the top bonus winners in the UFC, an established fan-favorite in Lauzon states that he usually gets $20-30k in sponsorship, as opposed to his estimate of $2-8k for the newer guys.
Unless there are any changes made from now, once the Reebok deal kicks in Lauzon will be treated the same way as a random UFC debutant.
“Ed Herman asked them, ‘I’ve had 17 fights in the UFC – am I going to be the same as someone on their first fight?'” Lauzon told MMAjunkie. “And they’re like, ‘Yes.'”
“Joe Proctor trains at my gym. He was on The Ultimate Fighter, had a couple of (UFC) fights. He’s technically unranked; I’m unranked. But I make a lot more sponsors than he does,” he continued. “Looking at the new system, we’re going to be on the exact same page, which is pretty crappy.”
Anderson Silva vows he won’t wear Reebok
“The Spider” mentioned his relationship with Nike to justify his refusal to wear the UFC official sponsored uniform, even when it’s mandatory.
While the Reebok deal officially kicks in on July, Werdum and Lauzon have both indicated that the UFC may consider applying changes to the structure as they move forward. As for now though, fighters should already be looking for sponsorships they can get outside the Octagon.
Brendan Schaub has stated that he has already lost 6 sponsors more half a year before the Reebok deal starts, while Werdum states that he’s managed to retain brands who are willing to stick with him for stuff out of competition.
“I have several sponsors that don’t get in (the Octagon) with me, but you don’t have to have them all in the UFC, right?” Werdum said. “Of course it’s the best way to showcase, but it all depends on the brand and the fighters.”
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