In the two weeks following the UFC's announcement of its tier-tenure system designating how fighters will be awarded sponsor dollars from the controversial Reebok deal, the MMA community has been brimming over with emotional response ranging from concern to outright anger. Fans, media and even some of the athletes signed to the promotion have spoken out publicly about the facets of the deal. The overwhelming response is not a positive one.
Major points of concern have been:
- Loss of income to the tune of thousands of dollars now that outside sponsors aren't allowed in the Octagon
- Unbalanced match-making resulting in fewer fights for certain weight classes
- Women taking a big financial hit in particular due to the newness of their divisions and possible gender inequity
- A seeming missing percentage to the tune of about 40% of the $70M total that was supposed to go solely to the fighters
That last bullet point might now have an explanation. In a recent video interview with Sports Talk Live's Chick Hernandez, Dana White stated that the Reebok deal was not only in cash, but also in product. Just how much is cash and how much is product is still up for debate, as no numbers were released, but that bit of information might be more of a stinger than any of the fighters on the roster might have imagined. Their earning potential has been drastically reduced, but they will receive "product" to help bolster the losses.
I've transcribed the portion of the interview that pertained to the Reebok deal:
Chick Hernandez: Can you confirm for us the reports out there that the UFC's new deal with Reebok is worth $70 million?
Dana White: [Laughs] Oh yeah... Well, yeah. The deal, the Reebok deal is not all in cash, either. It's product, too. Um, you know, so... It's a good deal. It's not a bad deal.
Chick Hernandez: It's a good deal. We like good deals, although, some of your fighters are unhappy with the new sponsorship arrangement. What's up with that?
Dana White: Listen, change... Every time we change anything here, it's part of the evolution of the sport. You know, everybody...everybody goes crazy. Um, you know, it's part of the deal. It's time, it's the right time for this to happen. This sport needs it, and um, it is what it is. It'll die down.
Chick Hernandez: It always does, especially when they get paid and get to wear the swag, by the way.
Dana White: Exactly.