McMann believes gender inequity in Reebok deal

May 27, 2015

MMA Fighting reports UFC women’s bantamweight Sara McMann is speaking out about the UFC’s new uniform deal and is considering legal action because she believes that the policy may be unfair to female fighters.

McMann was interviewed by Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and believes that the pay structure based on the number of fights a fighter has with the company is unfair to women. Women were added to the UFC two years ago and according to McMann 86% of the women in the UFC will fall in the first tier of compensation. Thus, they will receive only $2,500 per fight.

While Ronda Rousey is one of the top stars and highest paid fighters in the UFC, she is the exception to most women fighters in the company. Rousey and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will make $40,000 per fight from the Reebok deal. All champions make $40,000 per fight.

McMann indicated that she is speaking to a lawyer with experience in “Title IX cases.”

Payout Perspective:

Title IX relates to gender equity in education but is known mainly for equality in college athletics. Thus, McMann would probably want to look into whether the UFC is committing a civil rights violation because she is claiming that its new Reebok policy discriminates against women. McMann is choosing her words when talking about this subject as she did not use the word discrimination. But, when she talks about “gender equity” or “inequity” she is referring to the “d” word.

Civil rights claims are difficult to prove and certainly the UFC can argue the fact that just 2 years ago women began fighting in the UFC as a reason women are being paid less with the new sponsor deal.   It could also bring up Rousey and Jedrzejczyk as examples of women that are being paid in the upper tier as they are champions in the UFC. Of course, Jedrzejczyk’s first title defense is on UFC Fight Pass next month instead of a UFC PPV. A point that could fall in favor of McMann’s argument that women are treated differently than male fighters.

Of course, there’s the issue of UFC fighters being independent contractors as opposed to employees of Zuffa.

In the article, McMann did not say she would file a lawsuit, but take her concerns to the UFC which could mean that she could meet with the company and that they may take her complaint into consideration. Whether or not it would address the pay for female fighters will be something we will look for in the future.

7 Responses to “McMann believes gender inequity in Reebok deal”

  1. BrainSmasher on May 27th, 2015 6:56 AM

    She is full of shit. The woman have done nothing but piggyback off the men who created this sport and still provide a fan base they pretend is their own. Now they want to change the pay structure to their own benefit.

    You get paid based on fights regardless of sex. Why shouldn’t those who have contributed the most to the company get more than those who haven’t? Nothing about that rule is based on sex.

    I hope the UFC releases her ungrateful ass and let her go back to trying to make money off wrestling. The lower weight ufc men’s divisions have only been in the UFC a few years also and are in the same boat. Kind of blows her argument all to hell doesn’t it?

  2. Saldathief on May 27th, 2015 7:53 AM

    hahahahahah women taking over thanks Dana, are you still fucking Rousey?

  3. Diego on May 27th, 2015 8:36 AM

    BS, I agree. There is nothing inherently discriminatory in this deal (though I don’t like it for other reasons). Two fighters with the same number of fights make the same sponsorship money regardless of sex or race. Where’s the discrimination in that? I’m not sure what the bar is to prove discrimination in these types of cases, but this sounds like bullshit to me.

    For the record, I’m against title IX as well because in practice it creates discriminatory distortions. It forces schools to have equal gender participation in sports while ignoring the demand of athletes to participate and the demand of fans to watch. As a result a lot of the smaller men’s sports don’t get funded (skiing, rugby, boxing) while those same sports for women do get funded in order for schools to meet the title IX quota. And those women’s teams wind up playing in empty stadiums because frankly no one gives a shit about women’s rugby, field hockey or whatever.

  4. Diego on May 27th, 2015 8:41 AM

    What McMann wants if for women to get paid more than men for doing the same work. Now that is discriminatory.

  5. BrainSmasher on May 27th, 2015 8:52 AM

    Agree 100%. Not a fan of title nine either. To many sports that have demand and make money are paying for sports that bleed tons of money. Schools cut wrestling that has less athletes and is way less expensive. But will built entire softball stadiums and travel a team of 30 all over the country while not even being able to draw in fans for free. The local college here just spent millions to buy a local property to build a softball stadium. There is no charge for tickets to games and there is still only 50 people there. This is a division one school too. Because of this we can’t buy 15 singlets and throw some wrestling mats on the basketball court?

  6. Logical on May 27th, 2015 3:43 PM

    Title IX is just not grounded in reality–especially when it comes to it being applied in sports. Sports are a spectacle driven by interest & attendance–you can’t force people to watch something they could care less about. For the past 9 – 10 years there has been interest in only TWO female fighters (Gina Carano and Rousey).

    EliteXC started its shoddy promotion of female fights, using them as a gimmick and making a one-dimensional-fighter in Carano a star, then Strikeforce did it with another one-dimensional-fighter in Rousey. The UFC doesn’t get it, you can’t build divisions when there is 0 interest outside of 1 or 2 people.

  7. Brian Wright on May 28th, 2015 3:55 AM

    I posted this on Bleacher Report about this topic this yesterday:

    How is the Reebok deal unfair to fighters? You are guaranteed a certain amount of money based on your association with the league. It is a structured deal so you are not in the dark about how much you will make. Now you clearly see your purse, your Reebok money, and the potential performance bonus. Sounds pretty good for an accountant and the ability to forecast pay so one can live within their means.

    BUT but but….. what about the 100k so and so is not going to make while the UFC is making billions……???!!!!! The UFC is not making billions, they are generating billions that have to be reinvested to grow the sport and pay back the huge debts they have incurred while expanding. Yes, the owners are wealthy men who drive Ferraris and they should! Nobody is fighting on Fox without Lorenzo and Dana.

    The real issue here is not the UFC or this deal. Its the bottom feeding mentality fighters have adopted with the full support of so called managers. It has been too easy to be a manager so just about everyone with a friend that fights is trying to be one. You used to be able to call a very short list of approved companies and easily secure a deal for a UFC fight. The money as of late is nothing compared to what it once was. Everyone has woken up and realized logos on shorts make very little money for sponsors and if sponsors don’t make money, they have no money to sponsor with.

    Why are the brands from the golden era of logos on asses all gone or now working on developing other markets? Because there is little to no real money in MMA. Trust me, I have sat down with the buyers for every major sporting goods chain to find out that they see no real value in MMA. You can’t compete with boxing brands and what little MMA they sell is cheaply made fitness oriented stuff.

    ABG bought Tapout and had to completely rethink it because they found out real fast that they couldn’t recoup what they spent within the MMA market.

    Yes, some have made millions off of their relationship with the UFC but we are talking 10’s of millions when other companies are making 100’s of millions in more high profile sports. Why sign a 20 million dollar unknown deal when you can sign a 100 million guaranteed deal with a megasport?

    You may think MMA is huge because it dominates your life but in reality, it is a very small market that doesn’t invest heavily into the sport. You may buy a shirt here and there but nothing when compared to Soccer, Baseball, Football, or even NASCAR. Some European Soccer star you never heard of will make more money with Nike this year alone then the entire Reebok deal is paying out for 2 years. Trust me, Nike will make its money back and then some. Reebok is still not sure what this deal will do for them if anything because MMA is totally unproven in the real world.

    Now, real managers that know how to elevate an athlete’s perceived value will take over. Athletes that can develop their brand will make much greater money working with companies that can afford campaigns outside the octagon. All the small vendors that can’t afford more than a logo on a short will drop off. MMA Athletes will now have to up their game and see what their true worth is outside of the niche market that is MMA.

    In reality, the system of sponsorship pre Reebok cost the entire industry and all athletes money. The way business has been conducted has devalued the sport with an over saturation of small companies and the emphasis on limited sponsorship.

    If the UFC and MMA Athletes are ever going to go beyond niche markets and get big money for its athletes, the business has to evolve. The Reebok deal is a needed evolution that will ultimately raise the profile of the sport and the value of its top athletes.

    There is nothing discriminatory, sexist, racist, whatever… in this deal. The UFC let a lot of guys slide for too long and they are now reeling the business back in to create a more stable platform for the future.

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