UFC fighters will earn anywhere from $2,500 to $40,000 per fight for wearing Reebok-branded gear into the Octagon, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said during a conference call Wednesday.
Fertitta said fighters will be paid based upon tenure, rather than rankings, because it was more fair and would lead to fewer disputes. In addition, fighters will earn 20 to 30 percent of gross revenues based upon sales of merchandise bearing their name and/or likeness.
He also said that fighters are free to continue to keep their other sponsors, though they can't wear those logos into the cage or during officially sponsored UFC activities such as a news conference or open workout.
The pay per fight, which begins at UFC 189 on July 11 in Las Vegas, is as follows:
Title challengers: $30,000.
21 or more fights with UFC: $20,000.
16-20 fights: $15,000.
11-15 fights: $10,000.
6-10 fights: $5,000.
1-5 fights: $2,500.
Fertitta said all UFC fights would be considered, so a fighter such as Josh Barnett, who competed in the UFC before Zuffa purchased the company, would have those bouts count toward determining tenure. Additionally, fighters who competed in the now-defunct Strikeforce or World Extreme Cagefighting organizations when those were owned and operated by Zuffa will be able to have those bouts count.
Zuffa officials also said there is a possibility of another major title sponsor that could appear on the uniform, but that money would not be shared with the fighters, at least at first. It would be used to defray operating costs Zuffa incurs running the outfitting program.
Fertitta said the payouts are minimums and would continue to be evaluated.
Reebok will work with the 586 fighters currently on the roster to design uniforms that will help maintain individuality. Fighters who decline to wear the uniform when required would be in violaton of the company's Fighter Code of Conduct.
They insisted that although some sponsors won't be willing to continue to sponsor fighters if their logos won't be displayed in the cage on fight night, many have decided to continue.
"It's no different than any other sport," UFC president Dana White said. "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. There are going to be clothing companies out there, or other sponsors, where if your business is mixed martial arts, you're going to want some of the best guys and some of the most popular guys in the sport to represent your brand, shoot commercials and [appear on] billboards and wear your stuff.
"[Women's bantamweight champion] Ronda Rousey does very, very well in sponsorships. She's never worn one of them into the Octagon."
Fertitta pointed out that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is sponsored by UnderArmor but Nike is the official apparel supplier to the NFL. He said similar deals will be available for fightrs, and noted that former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has long been sponsored by UnderArmor but has never once worn it into the cage.
"We're breaking new ground here," said Fertitta, who said all of the money from the 5 1/2-year deal with Reebok will go to the fighters. "This is new territory for us and for the sport. We feel like this deal with Reebok as we have mentioned many times is a huge overall positive for the athletes and the brand being associated with a global apparel company of this sort."