The UFC announced on Tuesday the finalization of a landmark six-year partnership with Reebok, a deal which could dramatically shift the role of sponsorships in mixed martial arts. Beginning the week of July 6, 2015, the UFC will institute a sweeping new uniform program which will effectively replace all in-cage fighter sponsorships with kits produced exclusively by Reebok.
So the way that this outfitting policy will work is that it will allow for each of the fighters' individuality, but also will provide a unique, iconic and consistent look for all the athletes, obviously very different from where the sport has been in the past, where it is essentially, for lack of a better word, a bit of a mish-mash with various different sponsors, different looks, brands, and styles."
Fertitta elected not to disclose the value of the deal, repeating only that it was the "largest deal we've ever signed" outside of broadcast deals.
In calling the partnership a "seminal moment" for the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts, Fertitta explained that "the vast majority, if not all, of the revenues" from the deal will be redistributed to the UFC's roster.
Fighters will earn a tiered sponsorship income dependent on their ranking the day of weigh-ins prior to their fight, regardless of card placement. Champions will bank the most money, followed by (in descending order): fighters ranked No. 1 to No. 5 in their division, fighters ranked No. 6 to No. 10, fighters ranked No. 11 to No. 15, and unranked fighters.
While not delving deep into detail, Fertitta explained that each fighter will be distinguished by their own personalized kit, and that in addition to a flat sponsorship income, athletes are also expected to receive 20-percent royalty payments dependent on sales for their individualized kits into perpetuity, meaning retired fighters will also draw from the program.
"Imagine Cain Velasquez," explained Fertitta. "He obviously will have a certain look, feel, and appeal to his merchandise and what he wears into the Octagon. He will be compensated based upon how much of that actually sells, over and above what he will be paid as defending champion for a fight.