Bellator may not have the visibility of UFC or the depth of talent, but one thing it does have going for it is an open sponsorship situation where fighters can advertise companies in the cage. It's the same system UFC had for years, until top brass started hacking away at it until finally killing it with the recent Reebok deal.
So it shouldn't be surprising that Bellator president Scott Coker is using this as a big reason for fighters to cross the lines and join his company. He's spoken in the past about how the Reebok deal has been great for Bellator, and now he's going even further, questioning the legality of the UFC's uniform situation.
“Listen, they're independent contractors," he said on the latest episode of The MMA Hour. "How they're forced to wear uniforms, to this day, still baffles me. It should be against the labor laws or something. Because you have to wear this sponsor? You have to wear a certain uniform when you fight? To me, they should be contractual position to get whatever sponsor they want. If Ryan Bader went out and made a million dollars in sponsorship, good for you!"
"They're independent contractors, how they're forced to wear a uniform...should be against the labor laws." @ScottCoker on #TheMMAHour pic.twitter.com/edL9I6Qkac— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) June 26, 2017
Bader was one of the more recent defectors from the UFC to Bellator, and he happily revealed he was making three to four times more money on the smaller platform than he was with the UFC. The Bellator pay-per-view was awash with various sponsors, and each logo that you saw represented money going directly into the fighters' pockets.
As for whether Bellator gets any of that?
"No," Coker said flatly. In fact, he blamed the UFC's sponsorship tax on killing the sponsor scene. "It was running out because the company was trying to impose a tax, and even if they could sponsor, they would have to pay the UFC the tax."
With the Reebok deal set to last several more years, we're sure this won't be the last time Scott Coker takes the opportunity to bash the UFC's sponsorship ban, or his company's much more relaxed approach.