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Carlos Condit on the lost buffer that outside sponsor endorsements provided

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UFC 143: Carlos Condit (Esther Lin)

Yesterday, an historical moment in the sport made headlines when the Professional Fighter’s Association announced its formation and plans to collectively bargain the terms and conditions of employment on behalf of UFC fighters. It’s not the first fighter’s association, but it does claim to have serious powerhouse backing from other sports’ union leaders.

Three things should be noted with this announcement:

1. Auspicious timing just weeks after the announced $4B sale of the UFC

2. PFA will only represent UFC fighters

3. MMAFA’s (the first fighter’s association) tireless efforts to bring the Ali Act to MMA

The MMAFA issued its own statement urging fighters and managers to decline requests from entities offering to assist in organizing a fighter’s union, which can be read here.

At a time when the sponsor landscape has all but dried up, thanks in part to the UFC’s extreme sponsor taxes and subsequent exclusive Reebok endorsement agreement, many fighters find themselves with little to no options for having that extra income that they had worked so hard to secure. When you factor in that they never had a say in the matter, it becomes an even more bitter pill to swallow.

One of the UFC’s top tier welterweights, Carlos Condit, has voiced concerns about the need for fighters to have a collective bargaining voice. In a recent interview with the Three Amigos Podcast, he elaborated on the particulars of sponsorships, both past and present.

“By the time I got the notoriety to get bigger sponsors, the sponsorship tax had already taken effect, but I still had some pretty lucrative sponsors. Nothing super crazy, but definitely enough to cover training expenses to give me a little bit of a buffer, and a little bit of security in case I got hurt, or in case my opponent pulled out of a fight.

I’ve been eight weeks into a fight camp, two weeks out from a fight, having paid coaches, booked plane tickets, and invested quite a bit of money in my camp, only to not be able to fight because my opponent got hurt. Boom. I’m out that money. It sucks.”

“We weren’t consulted. This thing…this Reebok deal that affected us so heavily…nobody asked our opinion, nobody sought to ask anybody, ‘What do you think of this?’ It was super heavy-handed and a lot of us lost a lot of money.

When asked about the difference between the “buffer” from the fairly lucrative endorsements he had before, and the current deal with Reebok now, Condit outlined an issue that many have not considered—there is no sponsor money when a fight is scrapped at the last minute.

“The difference is that the money I make from Reebok is per fight, meaning I have to fight to get that money. If I don’t fight, there is no money. It’s not based on me being a good spokesman or one of the faces of their company. It’s a per fight thing. It’s a very different thing. It’s more like a fight bonus than a sponsorship.”

A small handful of fighters have managed to secure outside sponsorships, but the landscape is pretty barren and those opportunities are few and far between. Carlos is not among the fortunate few to have outside endorsement.

“I’ve got a few seminars here and there, but no actual sponsorship or endorsement deals. I think there’s several factors involved in that. Some have to do with the Reebok deal and some don’t, but no, I haven’t got shit.”

When it comes to the exposure that might net external sponsors, television seems to be the ticket, and not for logo placement, as those days are gone. The general perception is that fighters appearing on television get viewed by a wider audience, with the ability to gain big fan bases.

With the UFC pushing their Fight Pass online platform so heavily, it sometimes comes in the form of lost exposure for some of their top contenders. We’re seeing a trend now where high level fighters are being placed on the Fight Pass prelims in order to market the platform, but some are not happy with the idea. Case in point: Lorenz Larkin.

When asked how he’d feel about being on the early prelims portion of the card, the Natural Born Killer was not exactly hip to the prospect.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t be happy about it. Our exposure and popularity, in large part, is based on how often we’re seen, and it’s public perception that the guys that are on those portions of the card, aren’t the stars. People’s perception sometimes ends up being the reality.

Unless you’re a hardcore, you’ve never heard of these guys, and they’re lower billed on the card. People tend to be like, ‘These guys don’t really matter because they’re farthest down on the card.’ I can definitely understand the frustration with it.”

Tyron Woodley has taken some heat for naming a couple opponents he’d like to face in his first title defense because both guys are not currently ranked (Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz). Many believe he should face a ranked opponent first, namely the Number 1 ranked contender, Stephen Thompson.

Condit, being the consummate pragmatist, feels there’s nothing wrong with Woodley seeking to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible.

“It’s not Tyron Woodley’s job to be fair to us. The only people he owes is himself, his coaches and his family. He’s calling for these big money fights because this is a dangerous sport, and you never know when you’re going to be done. He’s just trying to make that money while he can, and honestly, I can’t blame him.”

There was much more content covered in this excellent interview that included:

  • Fighters that win by "point fighting"
  • If he feels fighters have "blueprints"
  • Thoughts on judging
  • If the move to UFC On FOX 21 serves him better than being on the UFC 202 PPV
  • Thoughts on contenders being used to push the Fight Pass platform
  • If he's okay with Woodley going for "money fights" first
  • Thoughts on all the title changes
  • Drug test failures
  • Fighter safety and weight cutting guidelines
  • In depth discussion on sponsor issues
  • Olympics discussion
  • If he were to compete in an Olympic sport outside combat genre, what sport he'd choose
  • Breakdown & prediction of McGregor/Diaz

You can check out the entire interview here at the 52:45 mark of the audio or via the embedded player below. Remember, if you're looking for us on SoundCloud or iTunes, we're under the MMA Nation name. Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie Haynes, Three Amigos Podcast, Geroge Lockhart, Iain Kidd and Mookie Alexander or our Facebook fan page, Three Amigos Pod.

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