Strikeforce imposes sponsor fee
June 18, 2011
Prior to Saturday night’s Strikeforce event, it was announced that fighters’ sponsors would have to pay a sponsorship “fee”. Similar to the UFC fee imposed on its fighters’ sponsors, Strikeforce sponsors would have to pay a fee effective immediately.
The Underground reported the fee and stated that unconfirmed reports had the fee at $35,000. The fee, not the amount, was confirmed on the forum by MMA manager Alex Davis.
Via Fighters Only:
Unofficial sources peg the new Strikeforce ‘sponsor tax’ at around $35,000 but there is no verification for this at present. When the UFC introdued the measure in 2009, company president Dana White admitted one company was being charged $100,000 but said there was a sliding scale in place to reflect the different economic capabilities of potential sponsors.
Middle Easy spoke to Strikeforce fighter Conor Heun about the sponsor issue:
The only problem right now is that I have had a couple of guys sponsoring me since I was on the small shows, now they can’t sponsor me when wanted to return the favor and give them the time in the bright lights they deserve. They invested in me when I want doing much and now that i am on the big stage I want to support them like they supported me when there wasn’t much return. I do understand what Zuffa is doing and I think it will be better for the fighters in the long run. I mean, I would be taking these small clothing company sponsorships and I would be getting $500 and the reason I would be doing that is because it’s the same $500 they would give me when I was on a local show. That’s all they can afford and I want to show loyalty, I’m a loyal person and loyalty is very important to me.
The Strikeforce sponsor tax was inevitable since Zuffa purchased the UFC. Heun’s sentiments are probably mirrored by most Strikeforce fighters. While they appreciate the sponsors that have been with them since they started, the realities of the Zuffa business model will leave small sponsors out. For Zuffa, its about the UFC, and now Strikeforce brand. Zuffa is looking to attract the Bud Light, Edge Shaving Gel and Tapout companies and that likely means smaller startup companies will not be able to compete unless it can pay to play.
There is nothing wrong with imposing a fee for sponsoring a fighter, the only issue I would have with it is the timing. It would have been prudent for Zuffa (and Strikeforce) to notify sponsors of this fee. While news of the fee came out this week, it would be interesting to know whether sponsors knew this was coming. If not, that would not be fair for a smaller company to have to come up with presumably $35,000 to sponsor its fighter. If it was known earlier, at least notice was given. Of course, this probably depended on when Zuffa knew each fighters’ sponsor. The late notice is a burden on fighters that lose the sponsorship money and their agents that were likely scrambling trying to find replacement sponsors.