The Ultimate Fighting Championship has confirmed that fighters will be paid in line with their experience in the mixed martial arts series under its major new sportswear partnership with Reebok.
In December, Reebok and the UFC sealed a deal running from July this year to 2020 for the brand to outfit all fighters, with payment initially expected to be based upon their positioning within the organisation’s official rankings.
However, the series has now outlined a new policy, with UFC champions set to earn the greatest amount per-bout through the Reebok deal, $40,000 (€37,000), as their challengers are paid $30,000. Fighters who have taken part in 21 or more contests will make $20,000 per fight, with $15,000 for those with 16 to 20 appearances.
Rookies in their first five UFC outings will receive $2,500, with $5,000 and $10,000 going to fighters having contested six to 10 bouts and 11-15 respectively.
"We took a lot of information from a lot of fighters, communicating with them, a lot of people in the industry, and ultimately came to the conclusion that compensating the athletes based on tenure was the best way to do it," UFC chief executive Lorenzo Fertitta said, according to the Associated Press news agency. "Certainly it's clear-cut, black and white, and cannot be influenced by anyone at all."
The aim of the Reebok deal is for UFC to sit alongside major US sporting leagues by its athletes having a uniform look both in competition and at official events. In-ring sponsorship was banned last year although fighters can still sign endorsement deals away from the octagon.
"It's no different than any other sport," UFC president Dana White added. "Lots of guys are sponsored by different brands outside of the NFL, outside of the NBA. It's no different than that. The UFC is just catching up now."
UFC fighters will receive in the region of 20 to 30 per cent from the sale of personally branded Reebok products, while stars such as Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, Conor McGregor and Paige VanZant (pictured) have signed individual endorsement deals with the sportswear company. However, prominent fighters such as Nate Diaz and Myles Jury have criticised the Reebok partnership – issues that White said he will address.
“We believe that the introduction of this outfitting policy is very beneficial for the athletes,” Fertitta added. “It's an investment that we're making as a company, and we think that it's going to create long-term value for the athletes, the UFC brand and for the sport. It's going to provide guaranteed income for each athlete for each fight, thus eliminating the burden of acquiring sponsors.”