On Tuesday, after almost a year of speculation, the UFC officially announced their partnership with Reebok for official uniforms to outfit the organization's roster. Opinions have been largely divided, but there are certainly some serious ramifications for the clothing brands that are currently sponsoring fighters in the Octagon. One of those brands is Torque, which is co-owned by bantamweight superstar, Urijah Faber.
Faber recently spoke with ESPN's Brett Okamoto about the deal, where the big takeaway is to read the fine print.
"For me, I've always felt like the sponsorship money was not enough," Faber said. "I've had some great sponsors throughout the years but I've also worked on wearing my own companies. I own a clothing line, so this is going to be kind of weird now. I'll basically be competing against my own company, with the custom Reebok signature line. But I can see why the UFC would move in this direction."
"As a business person, my first question is: Is the 20 percent from merchandise sold out of the UFC's percent or is that directly out of what's sold? Is it gross? Is it net? Is it after they pay for advertising or if a shirt is sold, you get 20 percent from that number? I know in some deals, the UFC licenses itself to a clothing brand and gets 10 percent or whatever, you get 20 percent from that. It could be really good or really crappy from a business perspective.
"As far as the other details, I don't know because everything has been real vague. The conversations I've had with Dana is that it will be good for the guys at the top level and all the money is going to the fighters, but I have no clue what that is."
When discussion turned to the ranking system being the determining factor for the tiers of sponsorship, Faber agreed with that it might not be the wisest choice to mete out the funds.
"I mean, no," Faber said, when asked if he trusted the UFC rankings to be accurate. "But who do you trust in that regard? I do like what I read in one article is how they pay a lot of these guys in other leagues is by how long you've been in the league. That's something to consider. And not just because I've been in the league for a long time. If you pay your dues, you should be rewarded in this program."
Okamoto makes a valid point, that without a collective fighter's association, the athletes have little to no bargaining power, a point driven home by Urijah's statement about negotiations.
"It doesn't matter because it's not like I can negotiate it," Faber said. "I'll just ask and hope everything works out and it's a fair deal."
Bloody Elbow will keep our readers updated on the uniform deal and its continuing coverage as more information becomes available.