May 20, 2015
Yahoo! Sports reports that Donald Cerrone is set to lose $60,000 in sponsorship money due to the new Reebok sponsorship deal. However, Cerrone appears ok with it.
Almost 2 years ago, Cerrone signed on with Kevin Harvick’s sports agency and picked up some key non-endemic MMA sponsors which include Budweiser and Fram. Notably, both are UFC sponsors (Bud Light is the actual UFC sponsor although I am not sure if there is a true difference in sponsorship between Bud and Bud Light). He also has had golf-cart operator EZ-Go and others on his shorts in the past too.
Despite losing the sponsor money, Cerrone remained upbeat about the change in policy in the UFC. He acknowledged he will not make the “big money” but thinks it will work out. He stated that his sponsors will stick with him despite the shift. Of course, Budweiser and Fram are official sponsors so this helps. He noted that the deal with Budweiser is for a year and appears to be guaranteed regardless of whether or not he will wear it to the ring.
Interesting to note that the article mentions that one other UFC official sponsor will be on the Reebok uniform along with Reebok. One might suspect Bud Light or Fram would get rotating spots on the uniform at some point. Cerrone is in a unique position as he has secured individual sponsor deals with official UFC sponsors so those relationships are more likely to remain intact. But, does anyone find it odd that Cerrone remains upbeat about the sponsor deal despite losing money? He is one that has admitted to spending money once he receives it which is one reason that he is willing to fight anytime, anywhere. So, if he’s losing money on this deal, wouldn’t you be a little upset?
Fortunately for Cerrone, he is a crowd favorite and one could see a crossover with NASCAR and perhaps making appearances at NASCAR events for a sponsor like Fram or Budweiser or another non-UFC official sponsor. Thus, he can still make money outside of the Octagon without having to wear a patch on his shorts.
May 17, 2015
MMA Junkie reports Gegard Mousasi announced a new sponsorship with Bridgestone tires as a brand ambassador. He wore the brand on his shorts Saturday against Costas Philippou.
The Japanese tire manufacturer announced the deal prior to Mousasi’s fight on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 66. He becomes the brand’s first MMA ambassador.
Recently, Mousasi has had sponsorship issues as he sued Fear the Fighter for unpaid sponsorship money.
The announcement occurs at a time when most sponsors of fighters in the UFC are leaving due to the impending Reebok deal. With the signing, it means that Bridgestone will utilize Mousasi outside of any of his fights while in the UFC as fighters can still have sponsors but cannot wear them during the promotion of a fight or on fight night. We will see how Bridgestone uses Mousasi and what leverage it can gain without the aid of the UFC. One might expect more international ads with Mousasi as he is not well-known in the U.S.
May 13, 2015
MMA Fighting reports on an upcoming meeting among UFC fight managers to discuss the business of the sport in light of the upcoming changes to the company’s sponsorship policy. With the release of the Reebok pay tiers, it’s clear that managers and their fighters are concerned.
The meeting will occur before UFC 187 which takes place in Las Vegas. It is being put together by MMA managers Mike Roberts and Jeff Meyer of MMA, Inc. While no agenda has been revealed to the public, it’s clear that the Reebok deal will be a central focus of the discussion.
UFC fighters’ opinions on the Reebok deal have been split after the money figures were disclosed. Certainly, the negative opinions of the deal on social media by many have received the most notoriety.
One might surmise that a reason this meeting is set to take place is to determine the future of the MMA manager in the UFC. It’s clear that eliminating sponsors in July negates one of the main tasks of the manager. While there are other ways that a manager may be of service to a fighter, obtaining sponsors is key. One has to wonder how many managers (and fighters) show up at the meeting. Also, what will come out of this meeting? Will there be a unified request to the UFC to ask for a reconsideration of the sponsor pay schedule like the UFC amended its sponsor pay model? We will see.
May 11, 2015
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Scott Coker indicates that Bellator has been contacted by multiple UFC fighters and managers about its sponsorship policy in light of the revealed pay structure under the new UFC-Reebok deal. He also talked about Bellator business.
The Q&A with Luke Thomas hit all of the salient points although Coker remained neutral in the UFC decision to have Reebok as its sole clothing sponsor and the new pay which appears to negatively affect the pocketbooks of many UFC contracted fighters.
Notably, Coker indicated that Monster Energy Drink remains a Bellator sponsor despite its appearance in the Octagon. He also stated that the company looks to expand its schedule in 2016 which means more Bellator cards for next year. This likely means the possibility of more fighters being signed by the company.
When asked about the potential for a union, Coker was neutral once again about how it would affect MMA.
The query by fighters and managers about Bellator’s sponsorship policy was a likely result after the Reebok sponsor pay tiers were released. But, the issue fighters and managers must decide is whether the sponsors that may pay them $50-$60K right now will pay the same in Bellator. Also, at this point is clear that the UFC, just based on the publicly reported purses, pays more than Bellator. A fighter that sees his sponsor income drop from $60K to $10K may also want to consider where he might be slotted within a Bellator pay structure before jumping ship.
At this point, when non-MMA fans think of the sport of mixed martial arts, they think of the UFC. Non-endemic sponsors know this and thus it seems it would make it a hard sell for a fighter going to Bellator. Even for brands synonymous with MMA, one would think that sponsor pay may be different (i.e, less) in Bellator.
May 10, 2015
Sam Alvey and his tanning sponsor, Perfect Tan, will no longer be able to work around the UFC’s sponsor rules according to the organization. UFC exec Tom Wright indicated that Alvey’s “#PerfectTan” that he had spray-tanned on his chest this past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 65 was against the UFC’s sponsor rules.
Wright stated at the post-fight press conference that “Fighters definitely can’t do that.” Wright referred to the sponsor name tanned into Alvey’s chest which was first revealed at the weigh-ins the day before his fight with Daniel Kelly.
UFC sponsorship is a controversial subject considering fighters, like Alvey, will no longer be able to solicit sponsors starting this July when Reebok takes over as the official clothing sponsor for the UFC. Last week, the company revealed the sponsorship pay structures.
You can see a pic of the offending sponsor at MMA Fighting.
No word if Alvey will be punished for his actions.
Alvey’s sponsor stunt is reminiscent of days that boxers were paid to wear GoldenPalace.com on their backs. Of course, those were written on their backs and not spray-tanned onto Alvey’s skin. If you think about it, Alvey’s actions were “perfect” as the UFC could not really tell Alvey at the weigh-ins (although Wright states the UFC did not notice until before the fight) to get rid of the sponsor if it was tanned into his skin. Moreover, the sponsorship tied into the company since it deals with tanning. Not sure the benefit of a hashtag rather than just including the web site of the company. Look for the UFC to issue a reminder to its fighters that it cannot do this. Hopefully for Alvey, he is not subject to a monetary fine.
May 6, 2015
The UFC has issued its pay structure for its Reebok sponsorship deal which goes into effect in July. UFC fighter Cody Gibson tweeted a photo of what appears to be a letter with the pay structure listed. The lowest tier for fighters with 1-5 fights is $2,500.
The next tier for fighters with 6-10 fights is $5,000, 11 to 15 fights get $10,000, 16 to 20 fights gets $15,000 and fighters with 21 fights or more in the UFC get $20,000.
Fighters with 1 to 5 bouts will receive $2,500 per fight; 6 to 10 bouts get $5,000; 11 to 15 bouts get $10,000; 16 to 20 bouts get $15,000; and 21 bouts and above get $20,000. As it previously indicated, title fights would receive more. Challengers will receive $30,000 and Champions will receive $40,0000.
How does this compare to what UFC fighters once made through sponsorships? Take the case of Brendan Schaub who indicated that he made twice as much from sponsors than he did from the UFC. If we are to assume this is true, he would have made over $60,000 from sponsors. Based on this structure, he would receive $10,000 as he would fall into the 11 to 15 fight tier based on his 11 fights in the UFC.
Recently, the UFC announced a change to the payment structure as it moved from a pay structure based on media rankings to one based on the number of fights with Zuffa. The new Reebok sponsorship deal has drawn criticism from fighters and managers. It will go into effect in July with UFC 189.
At this point, the UFC has yet to comment publicly (the letter received by Gibson was sent to all contracted fighters) on the payment structure and its rationale. It’s clear that this is a hit for some (if not most) fighters that had deals with sponsors that it will now lose due to the Reebok deal. Schaub indicated he was losing 6 sponsors. Probably the same for many established fighters in the UFC. We will see what the fallout will be in the coming days.
April 30, 2015
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Tecate is offering a $50 rebate off of this Saturday’s Mayweather-Pacquiao PPV. The rebate will cut in half the suggested PPV price for purchasing the fight in high definition.
Tecate paid an astronomical $5.6 million for the rights to sponsor the fight. Corona, which had been a Mayweather sponsor, bid $5.2 million.
To receive a $50 rebate you would have to purchase 3 18-packs of Tecate. Alternatively, you can save $15 off the fight if you purchase just one 18 pack or $30 if you purchase two 18 packs. According to Tecate, it is offering 675,000 mail-in rebates. The forms are available at point-of-purchase locations which are primarily in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas.
Tecate has been sponsoring boxing since 2007 and has been involved in promoting Pacquiao fights in the past.
For those wanting the rebate, you will likely have to be in the Southwest part of the U.S. I have never seen these rebates in my neck of the woods although it would be a great promotion especially with the PPV going for $90-$100. Tecate invested heavily in this fight and we should see this promotion do well this time around.
April 25, 2015
Conor McGregor has signed a deal with Bud Light according to the outspoken UFC Irish Featherweight. McGregor made the announcement via social media.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 24, 2015
As you may know, McGregor already as an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok.
A long-time mainstay sponsor in the Octagon, you may have noticed it has been replaced in the center by Monster Energy Drink (and likely will be tonight since its biggest backer appears to be Rampage Jackson). But, Bud Light is still sponsoring the UFC and while the company has not made an official announcement it appears that it will back McGregor. If you watched the UFC 186 weigh-ins Friday, you noticed several fighters wearing “Bud Light Living” t-shirts. One would think McGregor will be involved in some sort of some sponsor activation in lead-up to his big fight this July.
April 24, 2015
MMA Junkie is reporting that UFC middleweight Gegard Mousasi has sued clothing company Fear the Fighter and its president UFC fighter John Makdessi for unpaid sponsorship pay. A source in the article indicates that Mousasi is owed over $25,000.
The lawsuit is filed in Canada and while it has not been disclosed, one assumes that he is seeking damages for breach of contract of the sponsorship agreement. He claims Fear the Fighter has not paid him for his last 2 fights. Also, Mousasi claims that other fighters are also owed money from Makdessi’s company.
Makdessi is a UFC lightweight fighting from Canada. According to corporate records, he is the president of the clothing brand. Makdessi is scheduled to fight Saturday at UFC 186.
This is a first of its kind lawsuit where a fighter has sued a fighter. Obviously, the circumstances are unique as Makdessi owns a company that sponsors fighters. This situation actually lends itself to the argument that UFC-Reebok deal is warranted as the fighters would be guaranteed their pay. The issue of sponsors not paying a fighter is not a new thing and the UFC sponsorship deal should help address the situation. We shall see what is to become of this lawsuit and the reaction Makdessi may receive Saturday.
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.”
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.