Remember when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White told the mixed martial arts (MMA) media to "shut the fuck up" about fighter uniforms?
Well, he's ready to talk about it now.
After several months of negotiations, the world's largest combat sports promotion has struck a six-year deal with Reebok to roll out new universal UFC uniforms beginning July 2015. That probably explains why Nike is no longer sponsoring top fighter like Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, who were both left by the curb earlier this year (more on that here and here).
Here are a few key points:
--All the Reebok money goes to the fighters.
--20-percent cut on the back end whenever a fighter's gear is purchased.
--Fighters can customize uniforms by choosing colors and styles of apparel and kit.
--Fighters can continue to be sponsored by non-Reebok entities, just not inside the cage or on location during fight week.
--Fighters can no longer display outside sponsor logos during UFC fight week official events, including fight night, UFC-produced content or other official UFC events.
--Individual sponsor banners are no longer permitted for the walkout or inside the Octagon.
--Existing or prospective sponsors may use an athlete's name and likeness outside of UFC fight week but cannot use UFC trademarks unless they have a direct commercial relationship with UFC.
Fighters and their teams will receive a uniform and apparel kit prior to each event.
"We feel like we've created a program that will be as much, and in some cases, more than (some fighters) are currently making," said UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. "They're still going to be able to keep their other sponsors, so we look at this as being additive. On top of that, they get a royalty for anything that gets sold that actually has their name on it."
UFC.com explains the compensation plan:
Athletes will be compensated for their compliance with the 2015 UFC Outfitting Policy by way of a tiered system based on each fighter's ranking at the time of the event weigh-in, irrespective of broadcast type and placement on the fight card. UFC weight-class and pound-for-pound rankings are determined by a voting panel of media members who consider only fighters in active status in the organization.
I guess it's time to take those rankings seriously.
UFC was originally in talks with Under Armour and there were even a handful of photos leaked online (see them here). That talk quickly died down and not much has been heard on the uniform front until the botched "Time is Now" press conference (watch the replay here), when UFC announced there would be no announcement.
Reebok sponsorships started with welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, along with lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis.
So, the cat is officially out of the bag (though not everyone will be celebrating) and brands like TapouT will be forced to tap out while Dethrone has been dethroned. Hey, thanks for all your support over the past 10 years, now GTFO because we're big leagues.