As the UFC continues to grow and evolve into more of a national entity, it continues to shed elements of its past, perhaps hoping to paint a more "polished" product for potential big-time sponsors and mainstream American sports fans that are just joining the party.
Earlier this week, news leaked that Zuffa had dropped The Gun Store and other related weapons/ammunition companies from its approved sponsor list. Retired MMA fighter and 10-fight UFC veteran Nate Quarry added his opinion to the mix on The Underground, giving perspective from someone that fought through the heart of the post-TUF boom period.
Here's a grammatically unedited excerpt:
An MMA fighter has an agent that he pays, a team he fights for that he trains at, that he pays, if he's good and has the money he has a muay thai coach, a Jits coach, a strength and conditioning coach, a diet coach and someone to help him cut weight. And if he just made it to the big shows he MAY make 30k for the year. Minus 20% for management and training at least then a third for taxes and you're sitting at about 16k to live on for the entire year.
Sponsors have always been a huge source of income for fighters. I can't tell you how many times a sponsor showed up at just the right time and gave me food money. Literally.
When I fought Pete Sell the second time I was sponsored by Toyo tires. For two fights I had their logo on my shorts. For what? A set of tires. That would be about $800. $400 for two fights on primetime that have been shown over and over. Why did I do it? Because I was driving around on my spare and one other tire was filled with fix a flat. The belts were showing on the other tires.
You want to see the best a fighter can be? Buy his gear. Support the brands that sponsor him and send the companies emails letting them know you're buying their protein because they're sponsoring someone.
What's that you say? If you don't like it then quit? I do like it. In fact, I love it. That's why I lived in my buddies basement 2 nights a week to save on gas money. And I rode with other friends to practice to save on gas money. And I packed a lunch to practice. And I only wore clothes sponsors and other more successful fighters would give me. And I'd do it all over again.
If you got into fighting to be rich, you chose the wrong sport. Do it for the love and if you get rich that's a nice bonus. But having those sponsors can sure make the ride easier.
Should Zuffa allow the fighters more liberties with getting sponsors or should they be restrictive? For example, if someone is bothered by the U.S. Marine Corps advertising on UFC events, should they fall under the same consideration? How can Zuffa make it right to fighters that are losing out on this money? Chime in below on this topic.