The UFC’s sponsorship deal with Reebok, and in particular how it affects fighters ability to make money, continues to be a hotly debated topic within MMA circles.
Ahead of his fight this Saturday night against John Makdessi at UFC 187, Donald Cerrone has revealed that he stands to take a $60,000 reduction in his sponsorship earnings per fight despite being placed on one of the highest tiers for the Reebok deal.
“Per fight, yeah, I’m going to take a little bit of a cut, sure,” Cerrone told Yahoo! Sports on Monday. “I think my pay grade with the Reebok deal is, $20,000, or $22,000. So, comfortably, [I’m] saying that I’m going to be losing $60,000 a fight probably.”
However, Cerrone will be one of the few fighters who’s lucky enough to have additional sponsorship deals with two other brands in Budweiser and Fram who are official UFC sponsors and so he’ll get to keep them.
That’s perhaps why ‘Cowboy’ still remains upbeat about the deal, and while he acknowledges there’s still work to be done to iron out the kinks in the deal, he can see how even lesser known fighters could end up benefiting from the new sponsorship arrangement in the longer term.
“I think the Reebok deal…you know, the first couple of fights, the first year, is gonna be kinda shaky ground while they figure everything out,” Cerrone said. “But I think it’s awesome. And like I said, there’ s a lot of people that were looking for sponsors and who were fighting for $500.
“Now they know – I mean, I don’t know how the pay is gonna work, but I’m sure the UFC is going to send a check, or Reebok is going to send a check right away. It’s not going to be like fighting for pennies again; knocking people out and then calling, ‘Hey, it’s been 90 days, where is my check? I don’t have it. I need it.’ So, it’s going to be good for everybody and once they figure everything out, I think it’s going to be just fine.”
One fighter who’s less optimistic about the arrangement however is Aljamain Sterling who’s rapidly making a name for himself in the UFC’s bantamweight division with three victories in a row to date in the Octagon, propelling him to No.8 in the divisional rankings.
Despite that, the 25 year-old will be placed in the lowest tier of the sponsorship deal, which will see him earn just $2,500 per fight until he’s competed five times in the UFC, at which point he’ll see that doubled to $5,000.
“The deal can work, BUT MAJOR changes need to be made,” Sterling wrote on Sherdog.com’s forums. “Tenure is not an ideal way to do it, because up-comers like myself Iaquinta, Felder, Elias, D. Ortiz, Almeida, Dariush, will get the shortest end of the stick. We’re becoming a more a familiar face but what do we get? An ‘Cool bro. Welcome to the Top 10/15. With becoming a hot commodity, you’ll earn a kick-ass $2,500/$5,000!!! GOOD FOR YOU!!’
“LOL its a freaking joke. I love how organized and how smooth the UFC is ran, but geeze man, this is just bad. I gotta try to fight more, which isn’t the worst IMO, just so I can make $2,500 more?? I feel like a big winner being ranked 6-8th in the world.”