Cole Miller talks sponsorship obstacles

October 6, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that UFC Featherweight and TUF alum Cole Miller reveals the deal with UFC sponsorships.  Miller explains that sponsors have not provided as much money as they used to and that other fighters outside the UFC are receiving comparable sponsor money.

Miller tweeted that sponsors are tightening the purse strings on paying fighters like Miller as he’s been offered to sponsor companies for free.  Or, he’s been offered gear in exchange for a patch on his shorts, but no money.  UFC will be appearing on the UFC Fight Night 30 Facebook Prelims later this month and indicated that he will be making less in sponsor money than he did when he fought on non televised portion of UFC cards.

Miller told MMA Junkie that he used to make between $4K to $5K in sponsor money for fights non-televised by the UFC.  At UFC Fight Night 30, he’ll likely make $3,500 if he is “lucky.”

Miller offered his view of what a sponsor should be via MMA Junkie:

“I think a sponsor is somebody who not only wants to be there when you’re at the top, but wants to be there to give you, or help you, give yourself the means to get better, even when things aren’t quite going your way at that moment,” he said. “Someone that will stick with you because they believe in what you’re doing and the progress that you’re trying to make.”

Miller indicated that fighters he knows in other promotions make more in sponsorship money which may be due to the UFC sponsorship “fee” accompanying having a logo on a UFC fighter.

Payout Perspective:

Miller’s comments are likely indicative of many of the UFC fighters that are not in the top tier of the roster.  They are finding that sponsors are tightening its budgets and/or restricting its spending to focus on a limited number of UFC fighters.  Or, directly sponsoring with the UFC.  Certainly, the UFC “fee” on sponsors is a reason that fighters like Miller are not getting as much as they may have once received.  Even with Miller’s fight purses, the article identifies his needs to pay his coaches and train and that sponsor money helps him makes these ends meet.  For fighters like Miller, they must be business savvy and creative in finding sponsors that will work with them while trying to fund their training and make a living.  It may be difficult for Miller  to reconcile his belief in the sponsor-fighter relationship with the current reality of the sponsorship market.

22 Responses to “Cole Miller talks sponsorship obstacles”

  1. michael on October 6th, 2013 8:42 AM

    I don’t want to sound negative, but I think what miller is referring to would rather be a patron than a sponsor?

  2. michael on October 6th, 2013 9:11 AM

    Guys, I’ve got a question. How is the situation in the US regarding tax write offs?

    Inventing some nice and easy numbers, say a fighter does the following figures a year:
    Revenue total(fight, giving lessons,sponsorship): 100.000
    Expenses in training, gear etc: 20.000
    Food supplements: 2.500 (maybe he claims supplements+eating out at fights, inviting his team at events etc.)
    Gas to drive to training, events: 2.500
    Manager + tax consultant: 10.000
    Medical bills: 2000 (or is that covered by health insurance? if so how much would he pay?)
    etc. etc. (of course I claim in no way these figures be accurate)

    –> which and how much can he deduct from taxes
    –> what would be the final tax rate/real net income after taxes?

    because so often fighters say they gotta pay their manager, their trainer etc. Those things have got to be tax deductible, right?!


  3. Tops of on October 6th, 2013 12:30 PM

    Lol UFC fee takes the pie and fighter gets the crumbs

  4. Random Dude on October 6th, 2013 12:54 PM

    There is no value to having a logo on someone’s shorts or banner. I think the only logo in MMA that ever got me to even visit a website was condomdepot and that was solely due to the name of the company. Never bought anything from them though. Everything else, no interest. That is not how people who aren’t senior citizens really shop anymore.

    Some of the comments from actual sponsers in that linked MMAJunkie article show this to be true as well.

    I’ve said this before, but Jersey Shore did a better job of selling Tapout, Affliction, etc. shirts than MMA ever did.

    We are in the 21st century and things are changing everywhere. What worked in the 80s, 90s, or 00s doesn’t work anymore and there is no value to doing things the old way. What’s the answer? I don’t know, but I do know logos on shorts and banners is not it.

  5. aintitthetruth on October 6th, 2013 5:28 PM

    Well, I know you can write off gas costs driving to and from the gym. Supplements you might be able to get away with. TRT is definitely deductable because it’s a medical bill for a condition haha. As far as normal food goes that is simply the Jon Fitch arguement. If I had to pay a manager I would personally not even include the amount paid as income since they take it off the top (in theory). The IRS is close to the gestapo in America. They are a bunch of thugs that scare people with fines and complicated language.

  6. BrainSmasher on October 6th, 2013 11:18 PM

    I never would have guessed a guy who has no personality and has been getting his ass kicked is now getting less sponsorship money than when he was a top contender.

    The UFC sponsorship fee has done nothing but raise sponsorships. IMO the UFC sponsorship fee isn’t strict enough. No one should get their brand in that cage for the peanuts they are paying. Guys like Miller taking a few hundred bucks as sponsorships Is killing the market value of a fighter sponsorship. The UFC can only do so much. IF these lazy fighters who don’t try to get better deals just take anything someone throws at them. Then no one is ever going to get paid.

    Some of the low level fighters who are not marketable need to team up. Getting your company on 1 loser isn’t very appealing. Getting it on 3-5 fighters in a package deal will get much more interest and drive up the price. It would make getting sponsors easier for those struggling to get a sponsor at all.

  7. aintitthetruth on October 7th, 2013 8:46 AM

    The team takedown model was always interesting. grouping up for sponsors seems. ridiculous tho. it reeks of desperation. money doesn’t split well five ways.

  8. aintitthetruth on October 7th, 2013 8:49 AM
  9. czrdgr8 on October 7th, 2013 2:06 PM

    Typically, fighter gets a check with the manger’s fee already deducted. So if the fighter’s purse calls for $30,000, when the commission hands out their check for fighting they hand out two checks, one for the fighter, say $20,000 and one for the manager $10,000. So the fighter would only have to pay taxes for his portion. And yes, gas, trainers, a certain percentage of food, supplements and some equipment are all tax deductible.

  10. BrainSmasher on October 7th, 2013 6:03 PM

    I think it is a good idea for guys who are at the bottom of have a unappealing personality. I don’t like the Team Takedown idea. I think the problem with it is guys early in their career are getting money they haven’t earned. They are not going to give a shit as they use up the peaks and do not deliver. IF someone ever makes it big. All hell will break lose because they have to give 50% of it to Team Takedown. Remember Overeem was only paying like 35% that was all inclusive for gym and manager and he wanted out. Fighters will use the money until they bankrupt you then when its their turn to pay up they will leave you high and dry. In theory TT is a good concept for someone wanting to hedge their bets and avoid the rough early period of a career. But because of greed they will screw them the first chance they get. Team Takedown will never be successful because of that.

    I think it would be a good idea if a group like that used the team to get package sponsorships for everyone. Especially if it was guys like Miller. It may seem desperate. But so does going to the media and crying sponsors don’t like you when you haven’t wont a meaningful fight In ages or put together a winning streak.

    Didn’t Cole Miller come out a few years ago after the ESPN fighter pay piece and defend the UFC pay and mention his sponsorships of 25K? I cant remember what exactly he said!

  11. aintitthetruth on October 7th, 2013 9:37 PM

    Going to the media to complain is free and easy. creating a business model that relies on a few other people in your group is not.

    as far as team takedown not being successful , i know hendricks hasn’t beat gsp yet, but i would consider him a success.

  12. mooseknuckle on October 8th, 2013 9:33 AM

    No value in those guys. There is literally no value in sponsoring a guy fighting on Facebook. Cole Miller is more notable than a lot of guys fighting on the prelims, but having a badge on his shorts is worthless. Getting a personal appearance from him to sign autographs at a supplement store could be valuable, but how much money is a spot on his banner or shorts worth fighting in front of a few thousand people scattered throughout the country on Youtube?

  13. aintitthetruth on October 8th, 2013 5:05 PM

    Lets not get hysterical Bullwinkle. Certainly there is value,even if its lower. a lot of people attend tbe event, and a lot of pictures get taken. It is also certain more than a few thousand watch the online fights. plus the sponsor could get lucky and the fighter have a sensational match that gets aired on ppv.

  14. mooseknuckle on October 8th, 2013 6:34 PM

    I don’t know of any business that spends money on advertisement hoping it ends up in someone’s picture from a live event.

  15. BrainSmasher on October 8th, 2013 10:33 PM

    I agree about Hendricks. But if he stays at the top, especially if he wins which I think he will. It will be very hard for him to be happy when he sees those million $$$ fights cut in half over and over and over. This always effects the relationship. It works in theory but human nature seldom allows it.

  16. aintitthetruth on October 8th, 2013 10:36 PM

    Bullwinkle you are an idiot. You can’t just pick one off and blow it out of proportion. but, that fact that you do proves you are an idiot. next time consider all the angles.

  17. aintitthetruth on October 8th, 2013 10:37 PM

    @Bs. Nothing lasts forever.

  18. BrainSmasher on October 8th, 2013 10:38 PM

    I agree with moose. I think those fights can have value for young up and coming fighters. If one of them go on to be a big name or meaningful. Replays of their fights are playing for years and people search out their earlier fights. But for a guy like Cole who is on his way out of the UFC. That isn’t the case. Few see him and even fewer care. This goes back to the momentum of a fighter. Early on sponsors will align with you because of what you might be even if you have little moment at the time. But when you are on your way down Where you are going hurts the value you have at the time.

  19. BrainSmasher on October 8th, 2013 10:47 PM

    I agree. But no one signs the team takedown contract thinking they will be a huge star. giving up 50% will assure Hendricks will never really be set financially even if he is on top as champ 3-5 fights. It seems Hendricks is likely under contract through 2016. Which means it will out last and run he might go on. I bet he will be talking to them about renegotiating his contract or he will fight to get out all together. I could see him sticking it out if only for a few fights. But not 3-4 years.

    It will be interesting to see. I think if they redo the deal. We will likely never know about it.

  20. aintitthetruth on October 8th, 2013 11:31 PM

    A quick look at millers record shows he has had 5 post fight bonuses. this is significant. if you can successfully lowball a guy like miller you are making a safe bet.

  21. BrainSmasher on October 9th, 2013 9:55 PM

    That tends to happen when someone is so inconsistent that never ise up the ranks for very long. He gets to beat cans then moves up and gets beat. Even his fight vs Gurgel he was getting owned the entire fight until the last minute of the final round. HE has the personality of a rock. Put of why he cant get sponsors might be his entitled attitude. He goes public crying like everyone owes him something. Im sure that shit comes off to sponsors too. He probably doesn’t do jack shit for the sponsors but take their money and act like a prick.

    Honestly its a pretty telling sign when people act like this. Almost always its someone who knows their run is over. If you really felt you would going to be back on top or turn things around. Would you really be burning bridges and crying about sponsors? You get a couple wins and the money will come back. You only cry when you know those wins are not coming. trying to cash in before it gets worse. Same thing Fitch did. Cry about sponsors and appearance fees knowing he was going down hill fast. Anyone with a desire to fight and focus on their fighting wouldn’t be bitching about this stuff. Winning takes care of everything. These guys are wanting handouts!

  22. FightingForChange on October 10th, 2013 12:44 PM

    Fitch was winning, and was getting the shaft. Maybe if sponsors would been there he wouldn’t have had this downward spiral. Miller has only been finished twice in around 14 fights. What happened to all this talk from Dana about how if you put on a good show you will be taken care of? Sounds like he is full of it.

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