Venum
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It would appear that the god-awful Reebok era has ended, and we are on the cusp of a potential new era of fighters getting ripped off for their uniforms. According to UFC senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein, the UFC has signed a new deal with Venum. The deal is for around 3 years, and Reebok will still be the UFC’s sponsor for footwear.

UFC 260 was the final event under the Reebok deal that the UFC signed in March of 2014. Highly disliked by fighters for the inability to have sponsors on their gear and the low pay, hearing that the UFC has signed a new deal would have you think that things are changing, but unfortunately that is only partly the case.

New Payouts

The new fighter payouts under the Venum deal are as follows:

Champions will now get $42,000 per bout in fight week incentive pay, compared to $40,000 under Reebok. Title challengers will get $32,000, compared to the old rate of $30,000. Fighters with 21 or more UFC fights get $21,000, up from $20,000. Athletes with between 16 and 20 fights will also see a $1,000 increase, from $15,000 to $16,000.

Entry-level fighters with between one and three UFC fights will now get $4,000 compared with $3,500 previously. Athletes with four or five UFC fights also get a $500 bump, from $4,000 to $4,500; athletes who have six to 10 UFC fights will go from $5,000 to $6,000; and fighters with between 11 and 15 fights get $11,000, compared with $10,000 under Reebok.

Quote from ESPN:

“This is not a profit center for us,” Epstein said. “Whether it’s cash out the door or where it’s product, we’re delivering it to the athletes. All the value is essentially going to them. We’re not really making anything on this. We do feel the look and feel of the product itself is great for the UFC brand, but when it comes to cash it’s all going to the athletes, whether in actual cash or product.”

The pay “increase” with this new Venum deal is a joke. This deal will add $1,000,000 annually to the fighter’s pay. That does not sound like a lot on the surface, because it’s not. Is it time for fighters to start a union? Potentially. Hopefully, this deal will allow fighters to have their own sponsors again, because the pay deal now is still a joke.

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