After a long tenure with Reebok, the UFC has parted ways with the company and announced that the martial arts Venum brand will serve as the company’s primary uniform moving forward.
Last weekend, the spectacular UFC 260 pay-per-view event saw Francis Ngannou become the new heavyweight champion, and on the same day, the UFC and Reebok finally separated after a multi-year uniform deal. UFC senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein confirmed the news with ESPN. However, there is speculation that Reebok will continue to develop shoes for UFC athletes despite the news that Venum will now be responsible for creating the new fight kits.
The Reebok Era Is Over; UFC Welcomes Venum To The Family
Specifically, the UFC and Reebok partnered in 2014 but introduced “fight week incentive pay” which helped compensate the fighters for a lot of their media duties. Overall, the policy bundled together most of the responsibilities of an athlete on fight week and was meant to assist with sponsorship money that would have otherwise been sought after.
With a whole new payment structure, one number that sticks out is now sitting champions will make $42,000 per championship bout. While it’s a small increase from before ($2,000), depending on the number of fights an athlete has had with the company can also impact the amount paid out. While the numbers aren’t a big change, they at least reflect a modest increase in pay when compared to the Reebok deal. In particular, title challengers will net $32,000 instead of the normal $30,000 for a title fight opportunity, and fighters with 16-20 fights in the organization qualify for more earnings ($1000 more than Reebok), moving from $15,000 to $16,000.
Criticisms were made of the new deal because of inflation worries, but Epstein emphasized that the money is being redirected straight to the athletes. In the end, Epstein truly believes the deal was intended to help out the athlete and underlines the quality of the product.
“This is not a profit center for us,” Epstein said. “Whether it’s cash out the door or where it’s product, we’re delivering it to the athletes. All the value is essentially going to them. We’re not really making anything on this. We do feel the look and feel of the product itself is great for the UFC brand, but when it comes to cash it’s all going to the athletes, whether in actual cash or product.”
It looks like the UFC is seeking a long-term partner, and with Venum already being a martial arts brand, it appears to be a match made in heaven. It would seem that sentiments are similar to what they were years ago. Epstein and company alike believe that a uniform look is what is best alongside a fair and balanced pay structure for athletes across the entire spectrum of the roster.
What do you make of the Venum deal with UFC? Do you prefer Reebok? Let us know below what you think!