In the UFC’s efforts to capitalize more on marketing and merchandising opportunities, they’ve been trying to get fighters to sign agreements which have come under fire for being a little too — surprise — one-sided. Sports Illustrated’s Josh Gross criticized the merchandising rights agreements for clauses that require fighters to sign away rights to their likenesses in perpetuity. In other words, the UFC owns that ass and depictions of said ass, and can do what they want with it. Several fighters — and by fighters we mean fighters’ agents — refused to sign. Now the UFC is turning up the heat on them by sending letters directly to the fighters in question, something of an ethics no-no:
Multiple sources have indicated that UFC officials are now sending letters to fighters who have not yet signed the Merchandising Rights Agreement. The letter warns fighters that if they do not return the executed Merchandising Rights Agreement by the end of the week, the offer will be rescinded, and the fighter will not be included in the UFC’s licensing program.
Even more outrageous, UFC officials are directly contacting fighters, instead of the fighters’ selected agents. Fighters are told that they are hearing only one side of the story from their selected representatives, and that the UFC’s Merchandising Rights program really is a great deal. By not signing the Merchandising Rights Agreement, fighters are told they are leaving money on the table.
The guys over at MMA Payout are calling this an attempt to “dupe” fighters, and likening it to the “moral morass that is the boxing scene, and not something that MMA promoters should be mimicking.”
Funny they should mention that, since Dana White reminded us just yesterday that one advantage the UFC has is that it doesn’t have to put up with boxing’s “political bullshit.” It’s all great timing, especially with the return of Couture, who said he first tussled with Zuffa over ancillary rights. One can’t help but wonder if he signed the merchandising rights agreement along with his new contract…