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Venum deal falls short of inflation - MMA fans & media react to new UFC outfitting partnership

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Folks are taking to Twitter to give their thoughts on the UFC’s new outfitting deal with Venum, which doesn’t even reach the Reebok payout levels when factoring for inflation.

An overhead view of the UFC Octagon at the Las Vegas Apex facility.
An overhead view of the UFC Octagon at the Las Vegas Apex facility.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

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.

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.

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.