July 30, 2015
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok. The announcement was sent out via Reebok’s twitter feed.
— Reebok (@Reebok) July 30, 2015
The middleweight contender’s last fight was in April when he easily submitted Chris Camozzi. He could be in line for a shot at Chris Weidman’s title after Luke Rockhold. He is currently ranked #2 in the UFC Middleweight rankings.
Interesting signing at this time as Souza does not have an upcoming fight announced. He is an under-the-radar fighter in the middleweight division and should be in line for a title shot soon. The signing probably helps the international market as he becomes the first Brazilian to be a Reebok-sponsored athlete.
July 23, 2015
UFC Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw has signed a sponsorship deal with Everlast as announced by the company via tweet. Dillashaw is set to make his second title defense against Renan Barao this Saturday at UFC on Fox 16.
Despite the talk of the sponsorship market shrinking due to the Reebok deal, Dillashaw has a deal with Onnit and now Everlast.
— Everlast (@Everlast_) July 23, 2015
It was reported back in May that Dillashaw left his agents at MMA, Inc. to go at it alone. Unless Dillashaw has signed with another agent, it appears that he has secured this sponsorship on his own.
This is an interesting sponsorship since Dillashaw cannot wear any logos sporting the Everlast brand this week due to the new UFC outfitting policy. The good news for Dillashaw is that the brand is willing to work with him outside of the UFC umbrella. Perhaps a trend of seeking out the lower-weight divisions for sponsor deals.
July 9, 2015
Rory MacDonald has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok. The deal will be in effect for his fight this Saturday at UFC 189 against Robbie Lawler.
The Canadian joins a select list of fighters with individual sponsorship deals with the official clothier of the UFC. This Saturday will be the first night that all UFC fighters will don Reebok fight apparel in the octagon.
Prior to the end of third-party sponsorships, MacDonald’s fight shorts were adorned with sponsors. With the end of that era, MacDonald will look to secure individual sponsorship deals and/or keep his prior sponsors through out of Octagon/Fight Week deals.
Notably, welterweight Robbie Lawler has not been offered a Reebok deal yet. You might recall he had signed with Adidas prior to his fight with Matt Brown last July. For those that did not know, Adidas actually owns Reebok. It actually contemplated selling the brand. Notwithstanding that, where’s Lawler’s deal?
It will be interesting to see how many more individual sponsorship deals we will see from Reebok. The MacDonald signing might be hedging bets he pulls off a victory over Robbie Lawler Saturday.
July 3, 2015
Despite the notable opposition to the UFC’s apparel deal, the “Reebok-era” has begun and according to the UFC, third-party sponsors are sticking with their fighters per a report by MMA Junkie.
While the UFC says it is working with its fighters about the Athlete Outfitting Policy (or AOP for short), the compensation to its fighters will remain throughout the term of the deal.
In an interview with Junkie, UFC Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Products Tracey Bleczinski stated that third-party sponsors are sticking with its contracted fighters. Bleczinski went on to state that the UFC would continue an on-going review of “all aspects of the program” although it would not review the compensation of the sponsorship deal. As most know, one of the biggest issues with the Reebok deal is that many of the UFC contracted fighters would be losing out on money from their fight week and fight night sponsors.
Overarching question is why the UFC did not seek input from its contracted fighters prior to entering into the deal with Reebok. Moreover, did UFC contracted fighters know about the pay structure prior to its public release? We don’t know the specific answers to those questions but the fact that the UFC says its having “open communication” with its contracted fighters now seems to be an “after the fact” PR strategy. While maintaining a dialogue is good and perhaps the UFC can make good on some of the criticism from this deal, the execution of its strategy appears flawed.
On another note, it would be interesting to know which third-party sponsors are sticking with its fighters. We have heard of many fighters losing out on sponsors, but not many sponsors sticking with their fighters. Notably, Dana White revealed that Venum is sticking with Jose Aldo. Also, Gegard Mousasi signed a deal with Bridgestone. But, not many other big name brands sticking with its fighters. If there are more, please let us know. Certainly, the third-party sponsor market will be a much tougher sell and managers/fighters will need to get creative to get around the Reebok deal.
June 30, 2015
The UFC unveiled its Reebok fighter “kits” in a glitzy press conference in New York City Tuesday morning. Many UFC stars were on hand to model the new uniforms which go into effect starting at UFC 189 next week.
The unveiling included many fighters based on home country and then the champions of each division (except Jose Aldo as he is training in Brazil). The UFC and Reebok stressed “performance and customization” and fighters that were interviewed talked about how the new uniforms were specified for combat sports. The uniforms had differing color variations although the design was mainly the same. Champions in each division wore black uniforms. Fighter names are on the back of the jersey and country patches are on the sleeves.
During the unveiling, Reebok officials talked about three types of kits: the country kit, a universal kit and a champion kit. The country kit are specific to the country that the fighter is from including design elements specific to that nation. The champion kits are the aforementioned black and also have gold and red trim.
There are also walkout wear including hooded sweatshirts, t-shirts, jerseys and sports bras available which will be made available for retail to the public.
Reebok already has UFC apparel on sale on its web site. Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre Reebok gear are available in addition to UFC fighters. Replica jerseys go for $70-$95 while Reebok t-shirts range from $30-$35.
The uniforms are already finding criticism as there are glaring misspellings and errors on the jerseys.
It was an interesting debut for the kits and we shall see how soon fighters and fans adopt to the new Reebok-branded uniforms. The country design is an interesting idea as it leverages fans with their loyalty to their country. Also, the champion uniforms are a nice touch to make them stand out. While we might debate the design issues, the overaching issue with the Reebok deal is the dent in sponsorship money that many of the UFC fighters will take. Obviously, it’s something that many fighters have talked about but I’m sure most will not do anything more than this.
June 26, 2015
Glory has announced that it is partnering with Hayabusa to be the official competition glove for Glory Kickboxing. The partnership will begin Friday, August 7th with Glory 23 according to a company release.
The gloves will be revealed to the public during fight week leading up to Glory 23. The gloves will also be used during the co-promoted show with Bellator on September 19.
Via press release:
“The name Hayabusa is well-recognized by the world of combat sports as the ultimate in performance equipment and technical apparel,” said GLORY CEO Jon Franklin, who helped broker the deal. “Our athletes deserve the very best when it comes to not only their performance and comfort, but their safety, and we feel this deal provides the finest gloves available.”
Hayabusa is one of the many combat sports brands in a state of flux as it navigates the new state of sponsorships in MMA. The company announced that it would not be at the UFC Fan Expo this year as only official UFC sponsors will be allowed at the event. With the UFC-Reebok deal, Hayabusa will no longer be in the UFC octagon and the company has shifted its focus. A recent MMA Junkie article wrote about what MMA brands are doing in light of the UFC-Reebok deal. For Hayabusa, it meant a 3 year deal with Glory. The company intends to spend some of its marketing and sponsorship budget usually earmarked for the UFC to Glory and its fighters as well as Bellator. We shall see what it means for Hayabusa and its business.
June 25, 2015
UFC Women’s Stawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has signed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok per the UFC. Jedrzejczyk also announced the deal via twitter.
She is coming off her first successful title defense this weekend on a UFC Fight Pass only show from Germany. With the new deal, she joins Ronda Rousey and Paige VanZant as the only other women with individual sponsorship deals with Reebok.
— Joanna Jedrzejczyk (@joannamma) June 25, 2015
Perhaps the only bad news for Jedrzejczyk is that she might not be able to show her sneaker collection to everyone. This could have been an untapped crossover talking point for her but with the Reebok deal she probably could buy more Air Jordans for her collection (although she probably shouldn’t let the public know). She showed her personality during the Embedded episodes leading up to UFC 185. Plus, her fighting style is fan friendly. With her fight Saturday, and the new Reebok deal, it’s unlikely we’ll see her on a Fight Pass only card again.
June 19, 2015
In a recent Periscope chat, UFC head Dana White downplayed the outcry from fighters about the Reebok deal. White indicated that the fighters are “freaked out” about the change.
White answered a variety of questions including stating that he estimated that UFC 189 should do over 1 million PPV buys. He also stated that they are filming a new reality show.
Jose Aldo is among the vocal UFC fighters as he states that he is losing a lot of money with the new deal. White shot back at Aldo stating that Reebok wanted to sign him to an individual sponsorship deal but he chose to stay with Venum.
So is it the contracted fighters’ resistance to change or the reality that the change will affect them financially that is the cause for so many to speak out against the new policy? It would seem that fighters have a legitimate gripe and speaking out about it may shed light on the issue and affect change. Or, it will not. Based on White’s comments, it seems like the UFC is sticking to its policy with Reebok and the UFC is not concerned about opposition at this point.
June 14, 2015
MMA Junkie sheds some light on the upcoming new UFC athlete outfitting policy with respect to late fight scratches. The information may add on to the growing discontent about the ills of the new program.
UFC officials indicated that neither fighter officially will be credited with a bout. Payouts for a cancelled fight will be handled on a case-by-case basis as one fighter or both could still be paid.
The recent example of Rose Namajunas and Nina Ansaroff was highlighted in the Junkie article. Ansaroff not only missed weight but was a late scratch from UFC 187. Namajunas was left without an opponent. Her sponsors had varying contractual responsibilities to Namajunas in light of a cancellation. Although the article did not state it, it was inferred that some fight-week and in-case sponsors had different financial obligations than lifestyle sponsors. While lifestyle sponsors pay regardless of whether there is a fight, others may not have to pay if no fight occurred.
The article outlines the new challenges facing managers and fighters in light of the Reebok deal. Perhaps the fact that may have been glossed over but is important is the fact that a fight that is cancelled by either fighter will not be logged as a fight toward one’s total number in the UFC. Thus, a fighter that could be moving on to the next sponsor pay tier would have to wait until they are called again to fight if their opponent cancels. It really seems unfair from this viewpoint and stagnates a fighter’s earning potential without even it being their fault.
June 1, 2015
UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is the latest fighter to express criticism concerning the UFC’s Outfitting Policy. In an interview with Brazilian outlet Combate, it appears that Aldo is in favor of fighters coming together to address these issues.
Aldo indicated that if fighters were organized like the players are in the NBA, the policy would have been different. Aldo states that his arguments are not his but for his teammates that have looked to him for guidance with the new rules.
With all the discontent with the UFC’s new policy, if the fighters had a leader to guide them it would be helpful. Of course, Aldo as leader has its pros and cons. While he is a champion in the UFC and should have some leverage, he is not a native English speaker which would make it an obstacle to communicate ideas with most fighters, namely Americans. Moreover, the idea of an association and/or union are good in theory but what would something like this look if fighters had the opportunity to organize. Would there be solidarity between fighters or splits between fight camps, fighters, etc.?