It looks like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Reebok are finally shelling out some extra dough to its fighters.
According to a Friday report by ESPN, the promotion is increasing its current payouts under the Reebok sponsorship deal. As a result, fighters with three or less Octagon appearances will now be paid $3,500 per fight instead of the original $2,500, while fighters with four or five Octagon appearances will see an increase from $2,500 to $5,000 per fight.
No other changes to the Reebok sponsorship payout tiers have been made at this point.
"This gives the shorter-tenured fighters on our roster an increase," UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein told ESPN. "We felt this was the most impactful, meaningful way to get more money to our athletes."
Since its inception in 2015, the UFC-Reebok deal has caught a ton of flack by numerous names around the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). Bellator MMA president Scott Coker called the sponsorship deal “unhealthy,” while former UFC middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi proclaimed that even the promotion wasn’t happy with the “terrible” partnership.
The hike in low-tier payouts seems to reflect some of those concerns.
In addition to the deal between UFC and Reebok, the promotion is hoping to bring in even more revenue through what Epstein calls “kit sponsorships.” Currently, UFC has only been able to bring on Monster Energy in this regard, but is hoping to expand its efforts in 2018.
"We sort of made that bet going into this thing," Epstein said. "We were somewhat successful with [Monster Energy], which is a great example of what we want to do. Yes, they're paying the UFC money as part of an integrated sponsor package, but they're also paying a dozen or more athletes individually. We're hopeful we'll get more of those going forward."
This is obviously a step in the right direction in giving UFC fighters what they need from a sponsorship standpoint. Because before the deal with Reebok came together, most fighters competing under the UFC banner were making way more money through outside sponsorship.