Tuesday the UFC announced the largest none broadcast landmark six year deal with the athletic apparel company Reebok, which will greatly change the role of sponsorships in UFC. In July the UFC will roll out their new uniform program replacing all fighter sponsorships and making them all to be exclusively by Reebok. This deal has been abuzz with negative critics and some positive but mostly many don’t know exactly what is going on and are just waiting to see how this outcome will affect the UFC and its fighters in the long run. The most asked question is how will it affect the fighters pay? UFC president Dana White sat down with the UFC.com and explained why this deal makes sense.
“If you’re the champion, you get paid the most,” White said. “If you’re ranked one through five; and next tier, six through 10, it makes all the sense in the world.”
With that said, White recognizes that the current ranking system must be overhauled before the deal takes effect in July of 2015.
“I want to cut it down to a few really educated guys who vote on the rankings. Guys who know a lot about the sport, and who I think wouldn’t have any bias toward a fighter one way or another,” White said. “At the end of the day, we’re human beings and you’re going to have those kinds of feelings, but I want guys that have a lot of integrity.”
Many of the top MMA journalists in the field currently don’t participate in the rankings, but White feels those people will be vital to the future of the system.
“I think they’re looking at it the wrong way,” White said. “I want to have conversations with those guys and tell them our perspective on it, and why they should be involved.
“It’s not unethical for journalists to vote on it at all if you get guys that are really good, educated about the sport, and have a lot of integrity,” he continued. “That’s what we’re looking for in these guys that are going to vote. And we’re definitely going to fix it.”
There have been several instances over the past few months where fighters have been pulled off the rankings.
Whether the reason was due to injury or inactivity, White said fighters still have to fight to get paid.
“The best example right now is a guy like Rashad Evans,” White said. “He is ranked number four, but he doesn’t get paid unless he fights – but he’s taking up a spot. So what we need to do is, when somebody is inactive you pull them down. Then they can enter the rankings again when they fight.”
On the impact of the deal
Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought the UFC back in 2001, and White says the Reebok deal is one of the biggest in company history since Zuffa began.
“Every year we take this thing to another level, and this is another step in that direction still,” White said. “All the money goes to the fighters. … It’s a very big deal, not just financially, but it makes the sport even more professional.”
By: Michelle Luce