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MMA Crossfire – UPDATED – UFC signs long term partnership deal with Reebok

The UFC announced a long term comprehensive deal with shoe and clothing manufacturer Reebok today.

According to the general terms disclosed, Reebok becomes the exclusive global outfitter for the UFC and it’s athletes as well as the exclusive apparel provider.

UFC Fight Week gear, UFC Fight Night Kit and UFC Fan Gear apparel lines will be created for the athletes and fans for the first time.

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In addition, beginning in July 2015, a percentage of all sales will be donated to benefit Fight for Peace, an international non-governmental organization (NGO) created by former amateur boxer Luke Dowdney, MBE. They use boxing and mixed martial arts along with education and personal development to “realize the potential of young people in communities that suffer from crime and violence.”

“Our partnership with Reebok is incredibly exciting for Fight for Peace and its future and Reebok entering into this long-term deal with the UFC will magnify the positive impact and reach of this partnership,” said Dowdney.  “Reebok and Fight for Peace have a shared belief in the power of fitness – and specifically fight training – and the impact it can have on young people’s lives, particularly those who are impacted by crime and violence. Today’s announcement between Reebok and the UFC will help us continue to build international awareness for the Fight for Peace mission, allowing us to reach even more at risk young people globally.”

“This partnership is much more than a licensing agreement,” Matt O’Toole, President of Reebok said. “It is a true collaboration between two great brands, which will not only give UFC a new and exciting look, but it will harness the global reach of both brands to also benefit young people around the world, particularly those at risk of being involved in crime and violence.”

Under the deal, the UFC outlined three primary benefits:

  • 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.

In the future, another global brand logo may be added, similiar to the European soccer leagues.

Fighters will be interested to know their pay structure will change under the deal, with the majority of the revenues provided by the deal going to the fighters according to Fertitta.

“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, irrespective of broadcast type and placement on the fight card. UFC weight-class and pound-for-pound rankings are determined by a voting panel of media members who consider only fighters in active status in the organization.”

A tiered system will be introduced based on the media-selected rankings system. UFC champions will be the paid the highest, with fighters ranked 1-5 (Tier 2), 5-10 (Tier 3), 11-15 (Tier 4) paid in lower accordance.

Unranked and non-ranked fighters will be paid at a Tier 5 level, or the lowest level.

“Whether you’re at the top of the heap or the bottom, you know every time you step in there, you’re getting paid. You have a sponsorship,” White said.

“It’s more incentive to get bigger and get better.”

What exactly does change?

“Athletes will no longer be permitted to have outside sponsor logos on athletic apparel during UFC fight week official events, including fight night, UFC-produced content or other official UFC events.
And individual sponsor banners will no longer be permitted for the walkout or inside the Octagon beginning with the UFC event on July 11, 2015, coinciding with International Fight Week in Las Vegas, Nev. The new policy will start the week of July 6, 2015.

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.”

Together with Reebok we are changing the landscape of MMA,” Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC Chairman and CEO said. “Working with another global brand with such a strong history in training and fitness will deliver long-term value for UFC athletes and their brands by elevating and further professionalizing the events and the sport. Every UFC athlete will benefit from high quality performance apparel specifically developed, tested and produced for MMA athletes. Never before has the sport had a global athletic footwear and apparel brand committed to investing so much in the research and development of products specifically for MMA.”

“Not only is mixed martial arts one of the fastest growing sports in the world, it is also one of the most challenging in terms of the dedication to training, overall fitness level and mental and physical toughness required. And nowhere is this on display more than in the UFC Octagon,”said O’Toole. “This partnership not only further cements Reebok as the leading fitness brand in the industry, it will also help us reach a wider audience and become the brand of choice for the more than 35 million consumers worldwide who use disciplines like boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts to live a fit lifestyle.”

White said he hasn’t encountered much opposition to the deal.

“Pretty much everybody, the men and women that I’ve talked to, they’re pretty excited about it,” he said. “I really got no negative feedback whatsoever, from anybody.”

It will be interesting to hear the responses from former disgruntled fighters like Wanderlei Silva, who have been vocal critics of the UFC and it’s former pay structure.

“We’re bringing our commercial growth – the UFC brand and our athletes together – so it’s a win-win for all of us,” Fertitta said. “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.”

UFC fighters will also collaborate with Reebok to develop a new fight training specific collection.

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Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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