UFC raises Promotional Guidelines payouts, projects $1 million increase in annual distribution to fighters

Effective immediately, UFC athletes will see an increase in their fight-week payouts as part of the organization’s Promotional Guidelines program.

Payouts for each of the eight tiers of the program – which feature six levels based on tenure in the organization, as well as special rates for title challengers and champions – have been increased as part of the new terms, with the lower tiers seeing a higher percentage increase.

According to UFC officials, the new rates should boost the incentive pay given to athletes by about $1 million per year.

The change coincides with the UFC’s move to Venum as the company’s new outfitting and apparel partner for the next three years following the end of a six-year deal with Reebok.

“At the end of the day, we paid tens of millions of dollars in cash to athletes (with the Reebok deal),” UFC COO Lawrence Epstein told MMA Junkie. “We delivered tens of millions of dollars of high quality product to the athletes to use in their events and in their training. With this new deal, we just wanted to more of what we were doing, which is deliver high-quality product and pay money to our athletes.

“We’re proud to say that when it comes to the cash payment to the athletes, there will be across-the-board increases for every tier of the payout pursuant to the UFC Promotional Guidelines program.”

The new rates are listed in the table below.

Like before, Promotional Guidelines Compliance payments are distributed to fighters at every UFC event, provided the athlete has adhered to outfitting policies, as well as completed all required promotional duties and followed a defined code of conduct during fight week.

The payouts are funded through the promotion’s deal with Venum, and Epstein said that just like Reebok partnership before it, the outfitting program sees all revenue generated dispersed to UFC athletes.

“This is not a situation where the UFC is making money off this relationship with Venum,” Epstein said. “All of the product, and of course all of the cash is being delivered to the athletes, and so this is not a profit center for us. It’s something we feel is very important for the UFC brand, and of course we’re incredibly proud of the tens of millions of dollars we have delivered and will continue to deliver in the future for the athletes for participating in this program.”

Financial terms of the Venum deal have not been disclosed. The Reebok partnership was valued at $70 million over the past six years, which brought about some questions when MMA Junkie reported the total athlete payout, which was tracked independently from the start of the program based on the tier information provided by the UFC, totaled $39.3 million.

Epstein said the final number was actually higher than that and also pointed out that the “substantial costs with delivering the high-quality product” to athletes and their corners at each event also factored into the total value of the deal.

Epstein said that will continue to be the case with the Venum, who will supply all fight-week gear to UFC athletes beginning with next week’s UFC on ABC 2 event, save for footwear, which will continue to be provided by Reebok through the end of 2021.

“This product that we’re producing with Venum is incredibly high-quality,” Espstein said. “It’s manufactured to exacting standards that are specific to our athlete, and that product obviously costs money to produce. But this is not a profit center for the UFC in any way, shape or form.”

Epstein said the organization will officially roll out the new Venum fight kits next week but is happy to be partnering with the company, which has been manufacturing martial arts clothing and equipment since 2006, in a deal that officially launches today.

“Venum has been apart of the MMA landscape for a long time,” Epstein said. “They’ve been a sponsor of many of our iconic fighters. They are an MMA brand, so they build product for the mixed martial arts athlete, and they do a great job at it, so when we went out and were looking for a a partner in the outfitting pace, we had a great relationship with Reebok, but one of the things that was key to us was that the product had to be designed for mixed martial arts athletes. This couldn’t be a logo slap of a compression product or some other short. It had to be a product that was specifically designed for our athletes.

“We were happy with the way things worked out with Reebok, and frankly we just wanted more of the same and take it to the next level with Venum, and that’s exactly what this program does.”