NEW YORK-- It goes without saying that it appears to be a bit easier for one to favor the UFC's new six-year, $70 million dollar uniform deal with Reebok if you are one of the UFC champions set to make $40,000 per fight.
For UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, she has that, plus a huge clothing sponsor like Buffalo David Britton outside of the Octagon, as well as a flourishing action-movie career. She's not one of the fighters in the first tier of the deal that will make $2,500 until after five fights (see the tiers here).
However, Rousey certainly knows what it's like to struggle to get by and her story of her early days is now very well known. From working three different jobs, to living out of her car, the Olympic judo medalist is all too familiar with the financial struggles that many MMA athletes go through. It can also be very difficult for a lot of fighters to find sponsors and that's why if the champion was starting her career today, she would still be in favor of the Reebok deal.
"I wish I had this Reebok deal when I was coming up because it would've been nice if I didn't have to hustle for an apparel sponsor," said Rousey, who will face Bethe Correia at UFC 190 on August 1, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (more on that here).
UFC president Dana White mentioned that Rousey has never worn an apparel brand inside the Octagon and there is a big reason for that, which he hasn't mentioned. During her time as a champion in Strikeforce, Ronda had secured an apparel sponsor before her first title defense in August of 2012, and that was the last time she ever wore a brand inside the cage.
"The first time I defended my title against Sara Kaufman, I wore Trauma MMA and it was only for nine thousand dollars and they still stiffed me," said Rousey, during a media scrum after the UFC-Reebok fight kit unveiling on Tuesday (June 30, 2015). "They just didn't even pay me and what am I even going to do about it? What could I do about it? You think that athletes have a bunch of money to go sue somebody for taking advantage of them? No."
After she got stiffed by Trauma, Rousey's opinion was permanently changed.
"And I still to this day, after I got stiffed on that one brand, I never worked with an apparel sponsor again because I just didn't trust anyone," she revealed. "It's nice to work with people that I can trust."
The deal has been met with an abundance of criticism from the MMA community, but the undefeated women's champion is "happy to be a part of it," she said, before emphasizing that fighters can count on the money from Reebok, unlike other companies like the one that ripped her off. They can move up to the higher tiers and also secure an individual deal like her and several other fighters on the UFC roster.
"I think it's awesome, not only that they have this deal and a tier system, but the more they win the more, they make and they can get their individual deals as well," she said. "It's so nice that you don't have to worry any more and you feel protected and to know that every single cent of the Reebok deal goes to the athletes. The UFC doesn't keep any of it."
Now, some will definitely debate whether or not all the money does, in fact, go to all of the fighters, but under the Reebok deal, none of the fighters are going to get stiffed, and as Rousey sees it, that's a great thing for her and the entire roster.