After months of speculation, the UFC has finally announced they have reached a groundbreaking six-year partnership with Reebok, which will become the exclusive outfitter and apparel provider for the world’s premiere mixed martial arts organization.

Some of the apparel will include exclusive “Fight Week” gear, a “Fight Night kit” as well as UFC fan gear, which will be developed in conjunction with UFC and its athletes.

“This will be the biggest non-broadcast partnership that our company has ever signed,” revealed  UFC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lorenzo Fertitta, at a press conference in New York, “so it is significant.”

The partnership between the UFC and Reebok will rival other exclusivity deals seen in the NFL, NBA and MLB.

However, what this new deal has that the others may not is the fact UFC will be distributing the vast majority of the revenue received from this partnership to the athletes.

Fertitta went on to reveal the company is investing in this platform to create long-term value in the brand and its athletes while Reebok pours its own assets into research and development of apparel and gear specifically designed for MMA athletes.

Athletes will be compensated for their compliance with the 2015 UFC Outfitting Policy by way of a tiered system based on each fighter’s ranking at the time of the event weigh-in, regardless of whether the fight card is on pay-per-view or air on free television. The fighter’s placement on the card also does not matter, meaning they will make the same whether they appear on the main or preliminary card of the broadcast.

Among the policy benefits: (via UFC.com)

  • Associating UFC athletes with a global athletic footwear and apparel brand, with high quality performance apparel specifically developed, tested and produced for MMA athletes.
  • Guaranteed income for each fight, eliminating the burden of seeking sponsors on a per-event basis.
  • Opportunity to generate royalty income from the new athlete-specific products created through the program.
  • Fighters can choose from an array of colors and styles of apparel and kit, allowing for some form of customization.

The UFC weight-class and pound-for-pound rankings are determined by a voting panel made up of members of the media. Only fighters in active status are considered for the rankings.

The tiered compensation levels for fighters, based on their respective rankings will reward champions of the respective divisions the most. Other tiers will reward fighters ranked 1 through 5 (Tier 2); 5-10 (Tier 3); 10-15 (Tier 4). Unranked fighters will be compensated at a Tier 5 level and those non-ranked fighters will receive the same compensation.

“Whether you’re at the top of the heap or the bottom,” said White. “You know every time you step in there, you’re getting paid. You have a sponsorship. It’s more incentive to get bigger and get better.”

One of the other major changes fans will immediately notice is the series of logos plastered across each fighter’s fight shorts and walkout shirts as they will no longer be permitted to have outside sponsor logos on athletic apparel during official UFC fight week events, including fight night, UFC-produced content or other official UFC events. This also includes individual sponsor banners, which will no longer be permitted for the walkout or inside the Octagon beginning with the UFC event on July 11, 2015, coinciding with the International Fight Week in Las Vegas.

Athletes can continue to maintain their individual apparel and non-apparel sponsors outside all UFC events, and existing or prospective sponsors may use an athlete’s name and likeness. But they cannot use UFC trademarks unless they have a direct commercial relationship with UFC.

“Pretty much everybody, the men and women that I’ve talked to, they’re pretty excited about it,” White said when he revealed he had been contacting the fighters directly to explain the new policy. “I really got no negative feedback whatsoever, from anybody.”

“It’s going to help the fighters, because it is going to allow them focus more on their training and not have to run around to get some of these sponsors…that aren’t blue-chip, Fortune 500 companies,” added Fertitta. “We feel like we’ve created a program that will be as much, and in some cases, more than (some fighters) are currently making. They’re still going to be able to keep their other sponsors, so we look at this as being additive. On top of that, they get a royalty for anything that gets sold that actually has their name on it.”

It should also be noted a percentage of all Reebok/UFC product will also be donated to Fight for Peace, a non-profit organization that combines boxing and martial arts with education and personal development in communities affected by crime and violence. Fight for Peace was founded in 2000 to provide an alternative to the armed violence and drug trafficking impacting young residents of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

About The Author

News Manager

José began his career as a mixed martial arts journalist while still enrolled at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Since graduating in May 2013, he has attended dozens of high profile UFC fight cards as a credentialed member of the media, providing live cage side coverage through his articles and videos. His work has appeared on UFC.com, ArizonaSports.com and AZCentral. He is also currently one of the main contributors on Power MMA Show at Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, one of the first all MMA radio shows on a major radio station.