(From L-R: Reebok president Matt O’Toole, UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC social media intern Dana White. / Photo via Business Wire)
Yesterday, the UFC and Reebok laid out the broad strokes of a new partnership that would make Reebok the official uniform provider and commercial apparel producer for the world’s leading MMA promotion. In short: It’s a six-year agreement that will kick off on July 6th of next year, “every dime” of the revenue goes to the fighters — or at least “the vast majority” of it — and payouts will be based on a tier-system determined by a fighter rankings, which are themselves determined by a random and often unqualified assortment of approved media members.
There are a lot of questions about the deal that still need to be answered. But if a new report on The Telegraph is accurate, we now know how much Reebok is paying the UFC, in total. According to Gareth A. Davies, the partnership is “is understood to be worth $70 million over a six-year period.” So let’s break this thing down…
- $70 million over six years is about $11.67 million per year.
- There are approximately 550 fighters currently under contract with the UFC. That figure comes from UFC president Dana White, who said this yesterday: “I couldn’t call all 550 fighters, but I’ve been calling fighters over the last few days and pretty much all the men and women that I talked to are pretty excited about it.” Pretty much! Pretty excited! Nate Diaz was one of the dissenting votes, I guess.
- $11.67 million divided by 550 fighters = an average of $21,212 per fighter per year. Keep in mind that we still don’t exactly know how the tiered payout system will operate. But $21,212 is the number we’re starting with.
- Let’s assume that the UFC continues to run about 45 events a year, with 11 or 12 fights per event. That’s 22-24 available spots per event. Multiply that by 45, and you get a range of 990-1,080 — the total number of fights available to UFC fighters in a calendar year. We’ll just take the midway point and say 1,035.
- 1,035 available fights divided by 550 fighters = 1.88. Huh. So on average, each contracted UFC fighter is only fighting about twice a year.
- $21,212 divided by two = $10,606 per fight in sponsorship revenue for each fighter, on average. Of course, that’s if the fighters are literally getting “every dime” of this deal, which again, might not be completely accurate.
Okay, I understand that the vast majority (there’s that phrase again) of the UFC’s unranked masses will be getting a small slice of the sponsorship pie compared to the ranked contenders and champions — and if Johnny Fight Pass gets three grand in Reebok money every fight without having to hustle sponsors for it, that doesn’t sound like a terrible arrangement for him, does it?
But after looking at these numbers, I’m not as concerned with the up-and-comers taking a big hit. Now, I’m wondering if the Reebok revenue can possibly match what big stars like Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, and Anderson Silva used to make from all of their sponsors on fight night. Because $11.67 million per year, for everybody? The pie itself is not that big, relatively speaking. Of course, none of this takes into account the 20% cut of merchandising sales that UFC fighters will also receive. But then again, only the big stars will see real money from that incentive — because who would buy a Sultan Aliev x Reebok-branded hoodie?
Damn it, we really need details about how this tier system will work. And speaking of which — are we really supposed to believe that payouts will only be based on media ranking, without any consideration of star power? I mean, I respect the egalitarian, meritocractic nature of that concept, but dude:
No disrespect to Sarah Kaufman intended. We were just using her and Anderson’s shared top 5 status to illustrate a point about how the entire world has gone insane. We’ll keep you posted on the UFC/Reebok deal as more interesting stuff comes to light.
Yep. The UFC further continuing their stranglehold over the fighters. Why? They don’t have enough money to actually pay their athletes above welfare wages? Will the money trickle down? Has it so far? How many checks have the random fighters gotten from “official” UFC sponsors? None? No Harley Davidson checks? No checks from the supplement sponsors? “But Nate, NBA players don’t get to put random sponsors on their team jerseys.” Good point. But it’s that of a child. Please shut up and be quiet. NBA players CAN and DO make shoe deals The NBA tried to squash that, fining Michael Jordan every time he wore his Nikes. Nike paid the fines. Why didn’t Jordan get cut from the Bulls? Because he’d go to the Lakers and make just as much money. Hard to do when you’re working for a monopoly. (Fortunately some organizations are flourishing off UFC’s bad business ideals.) But here’s a better point: “Cool. You want to treat UFC athletes like NBA players? Nice. So when will the players union be put into place? I assume the minimum wage for a fighter, whether he actually competes or not, will be that of an NBA benchwarmer? Around half a million dollars? OH you just want to pick and choose dumb ass arguments that you think make your point without really thinking things through. You should run for office.”
What is really hilariously sad is they are stomping ALL OVER dollars in an attempt to get a few more nickels. Imagine a UFC with profit sharing. Where EVERY athlete’s paycheck is directly tied to the number of PPV buys. Where fighters are COMFORTABLE in the work place, not given the speech before EVERY fight that if they have a bad night they will be CUT. Where fighters have a chance to grow and build a fan base. And for you fans…. seeing a PPV where you KNOW all the fighters! Remember those days? The days of packed cards top to bottom? Now you’re lucky if you know the main event. Why is that? First off, the UFC will cut anyone at any time. Fitch, Gerald Dwayne Harris, many others. Now you have GREAT fighters that after a few years of fighting and the blinders are off their eyes they realize, I’m fighting for what? How much? With NO future at all? Let me clarify, sports are an opportunity, NOT a career. Average NFL career? Around 3 years. So about 1.5 million dollars. Not a bad opportunity. And well worth putting your body in harms way. How about the UFC? I’ve known main event fighters that fought for the UFC for many, many years, who don’t make enough money to even own their own house, put their kids through college, build anything you can in a job you know you’ll have for decades. So these athletes retire from fighting. Why? When they love it so much? Because at some point the love wanes and reality sets in. “I’m always in pain, I’m not appreciated, there’s no future in this and what I’m being paid right now isn’t allowing me to build a future.” I just read that the UFC is down in profits substantially for the year. So they do what every company does, blame the workers. Blame the customers. Even Dana is quoted as saying if you don’t like what we’re doing, don’t buy the PPVs. Wish granted.