In an effort to further elevate mixed martial arts and its athletes, the UFC has inked a six-year deal with Reebok that gives the Adidas-owned fitness brand exclusive rights to the production of official Ultimate Fighting Championship apparel and gear. The line includes “Fight Week” gear as well as a “Fight Night” kit, and will also extend to the production of fan gear. Both brands are enlisting the knowledge and insight of UFC athletes to provide the best experience possible, including making gear branded with the UFC’s fighters.
Reebok already sponsors UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks, who fights this Saturday in a rematch against Robbie Lawler, as well as UFC Lightweight Champion and Wheaties Box Icon Anthony Pettis.
The rule-change makes it so athletes are no longer allowed to have outside sponsors during any official UFC events or in UFC-produced content. Sponsor banners are no longer allowed for the walkout or to hang from the Octagon. The rule is effective July 6th, 2015.
UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said this deal is the largest non-broadcast partnership the UFC has ever been a part of. It marks the further professionalization of mixed martial arts, aligning it more with other leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB and others around the world, speaking to the evolution of the UFC brand. The UFC will distribute part of revenue to the athletes themselves, seeking to further establish these athletes and empower their individual brands.
UFC President Dana White said that it will provide guaranteed income for each fight as well as create the opportunity to generate royalty income from athlete-branded products—these sales will give the respective fighter a 20% on the backend. Every time a fighter step into the Octagon donning the Reebok UFC uniforms, they will be paid.
According to the UFC, the “tiered compensation levels for fighters, based on the media-selected rankings system, will reward champions of the respective divisions the most. Other tiers will reward fighters ranked 1 through 5 (Tier 2); 5-10 (Tier 3); 10-15 (Tier 4). Unranked fighters will be compensated at a Tier 5 level and those non-ranked fighters will receive the same compensation.”
Athletes can retain alternate sponsors outside of UFC appearances and events.
Now, whether you like Reebok’s or the UFC’s logos is another question, but at least this means that the need to bring in sponsors who pollute a fighter’s trunks with logos for “Aunt Tina’s Credit Repair Shop” or “Middle America’s Auto Insurance” is no longer necessary.
Reebok will not only create these UFC uniforms, but it will also dedicate its efforts and resources to the research and development of mixed martial arts-specific apparel and gear. They’re already figuring out how to implement the Reebok Checklight, an award-winning “smart cap” that facilities the monitoring of concussions in athletes participating in full-contact sports at a time where the injury is a trending topic.
The partnership also extends these companies’ humanitarian campaigns. Part of all income from Reebok-UFC products will go to Fight for Peace, Luke Dowdney’s Rio de Janeiro based non-profit dedicated to offer boxing and martial arts training to at-risk youth in an effort to divert them from entering the drug trade that has ravaged carioca favelas for years.
We’ve written about how much we have wanted the UFC to adopt uniforms. It's long overdue, and may be the best news for MMA all year. Not only does it create more income for the fighters, but we will finally be able to buy a Jon Jones jersey for that special someone next Christmas.
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