The long-time staple of the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene in South Florida, Dan Lambert, will offer all 90 scholarship players for the Miami Hurricanes college football team $6,000 annual endorsement deals, according to an ESPN report. In exchange for the roughly $540,000 commitment that Lambert will be paying the athletes, they will promote his gym, American Top Team, on social media.
For those wondering why the sudden endorsement deal with college athletes, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that college athletes have a right to get paid for their likeness.
Nevertheless, the list of athletes who train (or have trained) at the esteemed gym is enormous and its current roster is a “Who’s Who” of not just Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), but the MMA world at large. In case you forgot some of the names, we’re talking the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Douglas Lima, Adriano Moraes, Jussier de Silva, Alexandre Pantoja, Kyoji Horguchi, Pedro Munhoz, Rani Yahya, Marlon Moraes, Renato Moicano, Will Brooks, Tyron Woodley, Yaroslov Amosov, Santiago Ponzinibio, Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski, Alexey Oleynik, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Thiago Santos, Aleksander Rakic, Mo Lawal, Glover Teixeria, Yoel Romero and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
And, oh yea, Dustin Poirier, Amanda Nunes and Kayla Harrison.
To call it one of the biggest, most important gyms in MMA’s orbit is an understatement and its owner, Lambert, has been a mainstay name as well.
Athlete pay in the MMA world has been a hot topic of debate for years as well, but if any athletes had it worse, it was certainly stateside college athletes. For decades, they were completely prohibited from accepting money or benefits, while the universities they attended made upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars, most notably from football and basketball.
That’s all changed now, and athletes of all sports and levels are earning sponsorships. The Miami Hurricanes football team will be joining the likes of Jacksonville State’s Adelaide Halverson, who has landed a successful endorsement deal with media company Barstool Sports. Athletes across the nation are now working to leverage the new Name Image Likeness (NIL) to their benefit, although perhaps some might have more success than others.