Many UFC fighters appear to be somewhat disgruntled with the UFC’s new Reebok uniform sponsorship deal as they believe it’s going to leave them worse off financially, and that’s lead to talk that rival promotion Bellator many now become a more attractive proposition for those looking to maximize their earnings.
According to Bellator CEO Scott Coker in a new interview with MMAfighting.com there’s some truth to that as he claims that both “managers and fighters” have been contacting him since the underwhelming financial impact of the Reebok deal for fighters was announced last week which revealed they can expect to earn anywhere between $2,500 – $40,000 per fight depending on the number of fights they’ve had in the UFC and their championship status.
“I will tell you this, the phone’s been ringing,” Coker told Luke Thomas. “I just tell people, ‘Listen. We’re not going to engage in any kind of dialogue with you on any level unless you’re a free agent. When you’re free, give me a call.’
Coker mentions no specific names, but it’s worth noting that Tim Kennedy made headlines this past week when he voiced his frustration at the Reebok deal on Twitter and then pointedly wrote to Coker, his ex-boss at Strikeforce, stating, “I miss your face.”
Kennedy is just one of a number of fighters who have been able to acrue more sponsorship money from their own individual deals than they will under the new Reebok agreement which begins in July, and Coker thinks that will cause problems for the UFC going forward.
“I think they’re going to have a situation on their hands that they’re going to have to deal with,” predicts Coker, who worked for the UFC for a period of time after Zuffa acquired Strikeforce in 2011.
Bellator is already home to a number of well known former UFC fighters including Tito Ortiz, Stephan Bonnar and their most recent signing, Phil Davis, and Coker has made it clear that the door remains open for others to join the organization.
“I will say we’re eager. If you’re a free agent and you’re the type of fighter that we want, then we’re extremely eager.”
And adding fuel to that fire, Coker reveals that Bellator are looking to ramp up their schedule significantly next year.
“We’re going to have an announcement, I’d say, in a couple of months. We’re going to expand our schedule next year and do some really fun stuff and cool stuff. We’re excited about 2016 and beyond.”