UFC.comWinners and Losers in the UFC-Reebok Deal RJ Gardner July 2, 2015 News, Spotlight After months of announcements and speculation the UFC and Reebok finally unveiled the uniforms and gear that will make up their new “fight kits”. As a part of the newly established UFC athlete outfitting policy fighters will now only wear approved UFC/Reebok gear during all “fight week” activities. The press conference to debut the “fight kits” was a star-studded New York City affair with some of the UFC’s biggest stars taking part as quasi-runway models. With the fighter pay structure set and the “fight kit” designs now established, UFC 189 marks the beginning of a new era in the UFC. Only time will tell how this will all truly work out, but heading into this “UFC uniform era”, there are some definite winners and losers. Winners First and foremost the uniform designs – while a bit generic – are not bad at all. They are sleek and simple and they leave the door open for future fighter customizations as the uniforms will surly evolve over time. Sometimes less is more and Reebok really took that mantra to heart. Once one of the premier performance brands in the world, Reebok has been on the down slide for years now; this partnership with the UFC is a great way for them to reconnect with the highly coveted 18-34 male demographic. The UFC can help to introduce Reebok to an incredibly ravenous and loyal fan base. The other big winner in this deal has to be the UFC itself; not the fighters mind you but the brand. One of the biggest takeaways from the uniform unveiling was the prominent placement of the UFC logo. It is big, bold, and right out front. While doing this does take away from fighter individuality, it reinforces the importance of the brand. Much like the NFL who promotes the shield, the UFC is looking to sell the overall product rather than the individual fighters. Losers Even though uniforms aren’t a bad thing in theory, in practice this is a terrible deal for the fighters. Sure there are fighters who will benefit from the guaranteed Rebook sponsor money, but by and large fighters are losing money on this deal. By not being able to negotiate with their own sponsor and promote their own brands, the UFC is effectively limiting their true earning potential. While the uniform deal is only in effect during fight weeks and UFC sponsored events fighters are still allowed to seek out individual sponsors. But a fighter’s biggest selling point to a sponsor was that product/logo placement on fight night. Without that, UFC fighters become less attractive advertising options. Aside from the money – which is a major issue facing fighters – the uniforms in their current state quell individuality. Fighters often used their fight night attire and walkout gear as extensions of their personalities; an added way to connect to their fans. The uniforms won’t change the product in the cage, but takes away a fighter’s ability to develop a signature style. All in all, this deal is great move for the UFC. It brings a level of uniformity and structure and it adds a layer of class to the product. But unless the fighter money issues are addressed, this era will open up a Pandora’s Box of fighter’s rights issues the organization will not want to deal with.