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Ben Askren slams ‘terrible’ Reebok pay ahead of UFC 235 debut

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Undefeated welterweight contender Ben Askren will make his long-awaited Octagon debut tomorrow night (Sat., Mar. 2, 2019) at UFC 235 from Las Vegas, Nevada, when he takes on former UFC champion Robbie Lawler.

While Askren has a lot of things to take in this weekend ahead of his pay-per-view (PPV) main card matchup, “Funky” is also paying close attention to his financial opportunities in UFC.

Having always had the capability to seek out his own sponsorship and made thousands of extra dollars on the back end, Askren is finding it difficult to accept UFC's current sponsorship payout structured through its exclusive deal with Reebok.

Since this is Askren's first fight under the UFC banner he stands to the make the bare minimum.

“I only have to wear Reebok to this,” Askren said during UFC 235's media day earlier this week. “And to the open workout, and to the weigh ins, and to the fight, all that stuff… They’re not paying me enough though.”

“I got put in that damn first bracket,” he added. “I didn’t think about that [when I signed with the UFC]. When I thought about it, I probably should have negotiated the Reebok money up ’cause they’re not paying me enough. I think it’s $3,500 only? It’s pretty terrible.”

So how much less is Askren’s UFC sponsorship payout compared to when he competed under the ONE Championship and Bellator MMA banners? According to Askren it’s quite a lot.

“Sponsorship’s been all over the place,” Askren recounted. “Even when I was a nobody in Bellator, I made $20,000 on a fight. Those were the wild days. Back then, guys in the UFC were making six figures on sponsorship stuff.”

While a fighter of Askren’s caliber should be earning more than he is for his UFC debut on PPV, the Reebok system has been in place way before “Funky” was traded for Demetrious Johnson last year. If he didn’t negotiate something different up front that’s his misdoing.

For now, Askren will get paid like a newbie until he racks up some Octagon appearances, which starts this weekend against “Ruthless.”

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 235 fight card below, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.