According to Sportico the UFC has signed a $175 million partnership with Crypto.com, a marketplace for cryptocurrency. The deal will see Crytpo.com become the UFC’s first ever global fight kit partner. This means the company’s logo will become a fixture on the garments UFC fighters, and their corners, wear into the cage.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani tweeted out a mock-up image of what that may look like.
Crypto . com is now UFC’s first-ever global “Official Fight Kit Partner,” per a release. Crypto . com will have their branding on UFC uniforms worn by fighters, as well as uniforms worn by cornermen/women.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 7, 2021
No word in the release what %, if any, of this deal goes to fighters. pic.twitter.com/UjPfvjtGaw
ESPN has also reported that UFC fighters will not receive a direct cut from the UFC’s arrangement with Crypto.com. However, fighters will be permitted to attempt to try and secure individual deals with that company.
Fighters have not been permitted to wear their own sponsors (other than through special partnerships with UFC sponsors like Monster Energy) since the UFC announced an exclusive outfitting deal with Reebok in 2014.
Prior to that deal fighters were permitted to include personal sponsors on their fight attire and banners, so long as those companies paid the UFC upwards of $50,000.
The Reebok deal included fight week incentive pay that was handed out to fighters based on the number of fights they had with the promotion.
The UFC’s Reebok deal expired earlier this year. Venum has since taken over as the UFC’s official fight kit provider. When the Reebok deal concluded it was discovered that the partnership fell short of delivering as much money as promised through their fight week incentive program.
The UFC and Venum have continued the fight week incentive program with a marginal increase in the amounts fighters receive. However, this increase falls short of the rate of inflation.
The UFC is able to make partnerships with companies like Crytpo.com and others, without involving fighters, because they remain the only major sports league in the US where athletes do not have a union/association which can collectively bargain on their behalf.