The much-maligned Reebok deal is over. The UFC’s new uniform deal, with fight sports brand Venum, can now begin.
ESPN’s Marc Raimondi is the first to report numbers associated with the Venum deal. He spoke to UFC senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein to get the info.
Reportedly, despite Reebok now being out of the picture the UFC will continue the “fight week incentive pay” program is started with Reebok back in 2014. That program pays fighters a flat rate based on their champion status or the amount of fights they have had in the promotion. That rate is theoretically in exchange for a fighter wearing branded clothing, performing promotional duties and adhering to a code of conduct.
Under Venum that program will see a slight pay bump for fighters. According to Epstein the UFC will be boosting the program’s budget by $1 million annually.
A graphic showing the new pay scale was tweeted out by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
The Venum era starts today for UFC fighters. @marc_raimondi has a story on the slight pay bump the fighters receive as a result of the new deal: https://t.co/MSTTrjjvgx— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 1, 2021
Here is the payment structure breakdown, which was sent to all fighters (or their reps) this AM: pic.twitter.com/UCxlI50Mti
These new numbers represent a $2,000 increase for champions and title challengers. Fighters with 21+, 16-20 and 11-15 fights get a $1,000 increase and fighters with 4-5 and 1-3 fights gets a $500 increase.
Epstein told ESPN that “essentially” the entire value of the Venum deal would be forwarded onto the fighters. Sources have told ESPN that the Venum deal is not as lucrative as the Reebok deal was. The Reebok deal had been reportedly worth $70 million over six years, though much of that value includes the fight kits that UFC fighters received for free.
The Venum deal is for “three or so years” according to Epstein, who added that; “As good as the Reebok product was, Venum has taken this up a notch with just the quality of construction [and] the thoughtfulness of how our athletes will use the products.”
Before the Reebok deal was signed UFC fighters were free to secure their own personal sponsors for their fight gear and banners. The UFC always had the power to veto sponsors, but in 2009 the company instituted a sponsorship tax that meant that any sponsor would need to pay the UFC $50,000 for the right to sponsor a fighter. The sponsorship tax greatly reduced the number of available sponsors for fighters as well as the amount of money sponsors were willing to pay to fighters.