By Danielle DeVor
Used to be, in the UFC, fighters made tons of money through sponsorships. It was common to see brands like Venom, Tapout, and Bad Boy amongst others on shorts in the cage. Fighters had corner men hold up banners behind the fighters as the announcer was doing his thing. It was part of the culture.
Fighters could concentrate on training full-time. They didn’t have to work any other job than that of an MMA fighter.
Then, the UFC made a deal. A deal that was great for them and very bad for fighters. Basically, for those that don’t know, Reebok is the official brand of the UFC. This means that UFC fighters cannot wear clothing or anything related to a different brand to UFC fights and events. Reebok pays fighters very little.
This means that most fighters must work other jobs to support themselves while still fighting for the UFC when at that level of sport, a fighter should be fighting full time and not worrying about paying their rent.
From a business standpoint, this means immediate cash for the organization, but for longevity of the sport? Not so great. Organizations make the most money when people are invested in a fighter and their career. This means long term planning. Not one – shots.
While other organizations are still trying to make it, and still don’t have the clout that the UFC does in the business, fighters are not in a good place. As fight fans, maybe we should pay more attention to organizations besides the UFC so that the sport has a better chance to survive. Just a thought.