The Reebok era has come to a close for fans of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A partnership that started back in 2014 saw the UFC essentially detonate the MMA sponsorship market with the removal of banners from fight corners and an exclusive uniform deal that removed any and all (with the exception of a few select Monster Energy logos) patches from fighters’ in-cage outfits.
With the promotion’s Reebok contract now expired, the athletes of the Octagon will now be adorned in Venum fight gear for the foreseeable future; a new chance for improved designs, better fits, more exciting styles. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear to be a chance to make more money.
New pay tiers have been released to fighters and their management teams. And while the numbers appear to be just a little better at first glance (as On The Road Fighter Management partner Shu Hirata notes), a little deeper inspection suggests the actual figures don’t match the value Reebok brought to the table back in 2014, once you adjust for inflation. At least, not once you get to the higher tiers of the deal.
そうか、今日からUFCはVenum時代に突入するんだ。フィーは、リーボックの時よりやや良くなります pic.twitter.com/0u0ZCjJIHY— Shu Hirata | シュウヒラタ (@ShuHirata) April 1, 2021
A champion level fighter pulling in $40,000 in 2014, would be the equivalent of $44,707 in today’s market. A fighter making $30,000 should be getting $33,530 to get the same feeling of financial incentive. $20,000 would come to $22,353, and $15,000 to $16,765. Fighters who were earning $5k or less in sponsorship will actually see a slight improvement in their pay against the rate of inflation.
The UFC and its owners have always been big into freedom - but only as long as it's their own freedom to make money.— Philip O'Connor (@philipoconnor) April 1, 2021
The idea of Jon Jones are Amanda Nunes getting 42k for repping Venum is whole pile of unicorn shit. Should never happen. https://t.co/JDPTp2RNti
So does this mean if u fight 16-20 times in the UFC without ever challenging for a title, u wont even make 20k in sponsorship money from Venum for wearing their products as you fight and televise their product in action?— TheBlaze™️ (@ZombieBlaze) April 1, 2021
Thats kinda... sorta... whack https://t.co/oFcZoiLPiE
Venum deal is barely different than the Reebok one.— Jake Gould (@jakegould10) April 1, 2021
Basing a fighter’s cut of apparel deal off UFC tenure as opposed to popularity metrics = a genius way to suppress wages & incentivize cutting vets.
Until these fighters unionize, Dana & UFC will keep getting away with robbery. https://t.co/cPEsaIG6oT
A UFC history lesson.— Jordan McCreery (@MMAAdvertising) April 1, 2021
Was a time, not that long ago before fighters got screwed by UFC / Reebok, that Venum would pay $5K+ just to wear their shorts on fight night as one of many sponsors.
In 2021 as title sponsor their paying guys w/ 9 UFC fights a measly $6k for ENTIRE week! pic.twitter.com/GtyfOJ2O0h
The new Venum gloves that will be used in the UFC are sexy pic.twitter.com/ffaOFFY5Sh— MMA Eejit (@MMAEejit) April 1, 2021
If Jeremy Stephens fights on the McGregor/Poirier 3 card, he'll make more from Venum apparel than Conor McGregor. https://t.co/l85dAJPBWk— Tom Broome-Jones | Black Lives Matter (@TBroomey) April 1, 2021
venum to fighters with less than six ufc fights pic.twitter.com/r2PF1ajVk2— Hektic_One (@hektic_one) April 1, 2021
Venum essentially pulled the classic Price is Right move bidding $1 more for the spotlight lmao— Jordan Buckels (@Buckels_Jordan) April 1, 2021
While few of the UFC’s fighters have weighed in on the deal at this point, bantamweight Louis Smolka gave his thoughts. Namely that he’d like to get a piece of that upcoming Endeavor IPO.