UFC manager comments on Reebok deal, fight management

April 22, 2015

In light of Zuffa’s announcement that it has changed the policy through which it will compensate fighters under the Reebok sponsorship deal, a manager of UFC fighters has spoken out about the deal and the sponsorship landscape.  Oren Hodak of KO Reps who represents Johny Hendricks, Ovince St. Pierre and Joe Lauzon among others has expressed his opinion on the problems with the current state of MMA sponsorship.

“The current problem in the MMA landscape is the managers/agents that are in the business.  They aren’t working hard enough or smart enough going after non endemic brands.  They are simply seeing a logo on another fighter and then contacting that company. Or even more pathetic is agents calling another agent to help them out with a deal,”  Hodak told MMA Payout.  Hodak holds a Master’s degree in Sports Marketing and worked in the sports industry for several years before opening up his MMA management company.

“KOreps has had great success giving companies such as Reebok, Bass Pro, Smart Stop Self Storage, Instaloans and most recently Parts-express.com their first real taste of Octagon exposure in addition to partnering with fighters outside of the cage,” stated Hodak.  “Sure, the sponsor tax takes money out of budgets from your core MMA clothing and supplement companies but there are plenty more companies out there with a sports marketing budget.  Over the years the UFC has slowly raised the sponsor tax and added numerous categories to the non-approved list, giving fighters less and less opportunity. In turn, managers have an excuse as to why they aren’t producing and UFC has fighters openly complaining about sponsorship money.”

On Monday, the Sports Business Journal reported that the UFC had changed the way it would pay its fighters through the Reebok sponsorship deal which goes into effect in July.  Instead of relying on media rankings, it would base the sponsorship pay on the number of fights an individual has had under Zuffa.  This would include fights in Strikeforce and WEC after both were acquired by Zuffa.  The change in the policy was said to be based on speaking with a number of fighters and managers.

“Some fighters may come out ahead with this new deal but I believe the fighters with professionally qualified sports management behind them will not,” Hodak added, “We have already heard from numerous fighters losing deals because they can’t utilize the valuable fight night impressions surrounding tv viewership.”

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that despite the change in payment structure, the UFC-Reebok deal will still affect the bottom line of many fighters.  Hodak points out an issue he sees as a manager of fighters.  It’s an interesting viewpoint and a constructive critique on the nature of the business.  It also calls into question the management practice of some in the industry.  Not only will the sponsorship landscape change in the UFC, but the management of fighters may change too.  We shall see how this plays out in the UFC after the Reebok deal is put into place this summer.

13 Responses to “UFC manager comments on Reebok deal, fight management”

  1. jjjjjj_ffffff on April 22nd, 2015 9:16 AM

    Final Ratings: 2.749 M viewers for UFC on Fox

  2. BrainSmasher on April 22nd, 2015 11:51 AM

    No system will make everyone happy. I also don’t fully buy into this guys claims. Managers will not like a Reebok deal because it is easy money for fighters who if not already will refuse to give a manager a cut of it since they did not broker the deal.

    I also don’t buy his bragging that. Good manager will have great success in this landscape of sponsorship. He wants people to believe in his great ability so his company gets clients and isn’t left behind in this new era where there are not as important. In today’s climate you have to have something to work with. Huge names will find deals. Low level fighters will not interest companies to throw money into the fight game.

    Moving forward fighters can still have sponsors but they will have to earn them. Many fighters have got used to slapping a logo on their shorts and letting the ufc brand do their work. Now they will have to make appearances to promote sponsors. Having name value makes this valuable and a name fighter will be able to have a healthy sponsorship without using the ufc if the fighter is willing to work to activate their relationship. Truth is fighters have got a lot of money will putting in no effort and using the ufc and they took it for granted. One they will have to earn their personal sponsorships. Which I would only recommend for top level fighters. New fighters should enjoy the Reebok money and focus on fighting until they rise up the ranks. Then this outside sponsors might be worth the effort.

  3. tops E on April 22nd, 2015 12:09 PM

    Reebok would chip in to pay fighters because the ufc needs to pay huge loan hahahahahahaha cheap cheap cheap….

  4. Logical on April 22nd, 2015 1:51 PM

    http://mmajunkie.com/2015/04/nevada-judge-will-decide-by-may-11-whether-to-overturn-nsacs-ban-of-wanderlei-silva

    What do you think will come out of that? Is the NSAC aware they overstep their boundaries?

  5. Steve C on April 22nd, 2015 2:18 PM

    I am not a fighter, but a fan. That said, I want the fighters to maximize their revenue, but Reebok as a brand is dog squeeze from my perspective. Regardless, I would not be likely to buy Reebok apparel.

    I felt the same as a Bears fan when the NFL tried to push me into Reebok gear.

  6. Jason Cruz on April 22nd, 2015 3:32 PM

    @Logical – We will get to that but it appears no one there knows what they want.

  7. Grant on April 23rd, 2015 3:28 AM

    This guy is an innovator. He’s picked up quite a few quality fighters and seems to always have the most sponsors on his fighters apparel which equals $ for them. Well done sir.

  8. Nick on April 23rd, 2015 12:22 PM

    Brainsmasher you speak like you know. You tell young fighters to be happy with the Reebok deal and focus on fighting. Funny, sponsorship money is normally what these guys live off. And bringing Reebok to the game is something to brag about. Having spent years sponsoring fighters and having paid the UFC tax when it first came about, I can tell you it did hurt fighters. If a guy has to work a full time job in order to make up the money the list from sponsorships, how well do you think they will do.

    But hey if you sponsor guys or have actually fought, simply prove it. I handled alls sponsorships for Clinch Gear from 2008-2010.

  9. BrainSmasher on April 23rd, 2015 9:38 PM

    Nick, your comment makes no sense and comes off as more braging then any substance. Yes, I said young(UFC) fighters shouldn’t focus on fighting. I make that comment assuming most fighters will get close to the same money as before but from rebok. I know what many fighters have received ans it is very likely rebok will pay the same. Unless you know what rebok is paying then you cant comment about them being hurt. Also save me the “poor fighter” stuff. I know and have trained with many young fighters even at the highest level. Few have many expenses. They are young and pretty much care free compared to the rest of the world. The idea these are all 30 year olds with family and a mortgage is misleading. Coaching, teaching class, or working at their gym is hardly what I call work which is what most do if they have a job at all.

    Back to my point. With the current UFC system. It will be hard to command top sponsor money without the use of the UFC brand. SO like the recent GSP and Jones commercials you have to be recognizable to still pull in good personal sponsors.

    I never said the UFC tax didn’t hurt fighters. But imo it was short term only. It was implemented to weed out small sponsors who paid peanuts and caused fortune 500 companies to avoid the UFC and its fighters. The tax caused the prestige of a UFC sponsor to go up. It was then we seen the gatorades, Nike, etc come into the UFC.Now we see fighters getting very good contracts by someone other than UFC controlled properties like Xyience. Fighters lost out early. But sponsorships become much more appealing to larger companies and fighters will continue to reap the rewards as they get close to athletes in other sports when it comes to sponsorships.

    Ironically it was dime a dozen clothing companies like Clinch Gear that saturated the UFC at its peak to the point there was little value to any sponsors with 100 brands in the cage each night. I like the direction of the UFC sponsorship policy. Of course this is just my opinion.

  10. Nick on April 24th, 2015 7:33 AM

    Its clear you have no clue what the landscape was prior to or since the tax. But as a UFC shill it is obvious anything the DFW says must be gospel. What you fail to realize is fighters don’t get to the next tier until they can train full time. And as for the reebok deal, it will benefit those that signed on early like Hendricks, but I see it hurting guys making their UFC debuts or even just a few fights. As the payment will now be on tenure, if a fighter with 20 fights comes the UFC, he will be paid the same as a 1-4 fighter making their debut.

    Dime a dozen you say? Your right being the first sponsor for a lot of the UFC’s biggest stars like Chad Mendes, woman’s stand out Rhonda Rousey means nothing right? I am guessing you are a TUF newb?

  11. BrainSmasher on April 24th, 2015 10:54 AM

    I am willing to bet I have followed this sport MUCH longer than you! Congrats you found an example of someone who might not come out ahead in this deal. Didn’t I say that exists in every system? For every 20 fight local guy who comes to the UFC and gets low sponsor money there is 20 rookies who will be paid by reebok who didn’t have much sponsorship money and come out ahead.

    The fact you resort to claiming I’m a noob who follows Dana White shows again your stance has no substance. The fact is clothing companies in this sport have used the UFC and Dana White for their own personal gain. You throw a fighter a few bones as a loop hole into the UFC because you can’t sponsor the UFC and afford to advertise with them. The fighter never had any value to you. Now you have sour grapes because the UFC stopped you from using fighters as rented Mules. Let’s see how many fighters Clinch Gear sponsors now and how much they will pay when they are actually just getting the fighter. Your sympathy for the “fighters” is an act and the truth is you would have sponsored the janitor if they would show him sweeping the cage on tv.

    I don’t have to blindly follow Dana to know what is in the best interest of the sport I love and what makes business sense to their company and long term for fighters. I own and operate my own business and I can’t tell when something is bad for business. The old system for the UFC made sure that fighter sponsorships would never be anything more than a fight shirt industry. It was cheap and it was easy and it was crowded. I would never have sponsored a fighter in the UFC the way it was. Evena Mma clothing company was getting little ROI. A non mma company would get nothing. Now with exclusivity practically, there is value for anyone who gets in the cage. There is now value for large companies. Mobey for sponsorships will only go up. Reebok is the first of many. The old system was dying and before the tax sponsor pay was stagnant. The tax forced brands to make a commitment and pay more. With Reebok we will see way more money coming in than every before.

    If you want a system where a person can dream up a shirt over night and offer a fighter 1500 and get in the cage then you still have the minor leagues.

  12. BrainSmasher on April 24th, 2015 10:59 AM

    Btw, many brands were many fighters first sponsor. Not every fighters first sponsor is the same company.

  13. Nick on May 6th, 2015 12:46 PM

    When Clinch Gear sold… I left. Now just coach in the UK and have fun. Oh and been around since 97…. Oh and now the numbers are released… Start your dick tucking… You backed the wrong horse the facts show the deal is a joke… Drops mic….

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