The UFC is now charging prospective sponsors a $100,000 fee for the right to sponsor fighters that appear on UFC broadcasts for a six month period. This eliminates all the small-time sponsors because they may be able to pay $1,000 to a fighter but they aren’t paying $100,000 to UFC for the right to pay $1,000 to a fighter. The ones hurt the worst are the low-end guys who are struggling to make it on prelim money contracts. It also lessens the amount of money going to the fighters, because the $200,000 per year going to UFC as a licensing fee means perhaps $200,000, but certainly significantly less, going directly to the fighters.
As stated, this really hurts the mid- and lower-tier guys who rely on sponsorship dollars like waitresses rely on tips. Where will these guys replace sponsors who are unable or unwilling to spend $100,000 for the "privilege" to plaster their logo on fighters' shorts?
I'm also curious as to the motivations behind this move. Is it a Zuffa money grab? Are they using their leverage to eliminate competition for Zuffa friends (Tapout, etc.)? Is it another step in attempt to control fighters economically?
Zuffa loves to toot their own horn about how well they take care of their fighters. Maybe they do a lot more behind the scenes that we don't know about. However, we can only look at the facts available to us. For instance, at UFC 98, ten of the twenty four fighters worked for purses of $10k/$10k or worse. When you factor in training fees, corner fees, taxes, and then your normal monthly expenses, these guys don't end up with much money in the bank at the end of the day.
I've said all along that Zuffa's well within their rights to pull something like this. However, that doesn't make it a positive ethical decision. It's directly taking money out of fighter's pockets and putting it into Zuffa's coffers.