It turns out I may owe Dana White & Co. an apology:
All kidding aside though, while deals like these are great for fans that have clamored for such products for years, they also signify a milestone for the UFC and produce income for the fighters – not just now, but for as long as product branded with their likenesses are on shelves.
“The whole point of this is for the UFC to put out the best product line out there and to use our fighters collectively to make a statement at retail,” said White. “It’s also a great thing for the fighters because this is a way to market them outside of the Octagon, and all our fighters are going to make money, because collectively we’re stronger than individually.”
Ed Soares, manager of Brazilian superstars Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira, and Lyoto Machida, agrees.
“People are gonna buy an Anderson Silva doll and people are gonna buy a Rodrigo Nogueira doll because they’re fans,” he said. “But once it’s together and co-branded as official UFC merchandise, it just makes it like a 1-2 knockout combination and it makes more sense when it’s got the blessing and stamp of the UFC.”
Already, close to 80 current UFC fighters have signed on for these licensing deals, with more coming on board every day. And while favorable royalty percentages and the ability to make money even when retired from the sport are nice, what has put smiles on the faces of these athletes is that the UFC licensing deals are non-exclusive, still freeing the fighters up to do whatever they choose in terms of other non-exclusive deals.
“Our deal is non-exclusive,” said White. “These guys can do any other non-exclusive deal they want as long as they don’t use the Zuffa name. If they want to market their image and do that themselves, they can. We’re not trying to take money out of their pockets; we’re trying to put it in their pocket in perpetuity. And on top of that we're trying to enhance their Octagon image with the UFC to the world."
Without actually looking at the particulars of the deal, I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic here. I realize what they're saying is essentially a good thing, but they are not disclosing the exact terms and this information is being promoted on the UFC's website, not by another entity who can verify the information. Still, though, this seems promising. Now if the fighters could get some royalties for use of their likeness on DVDs and other merchandise, we'd be set.