Global fitness leader Reebok today announced a groundbreaking partnership with UFC®, the world’s leading mixed martial arts organization. Under the long-term deal, Reebok will become the exclusive authentic global outfitter of UFC, creating for the first time ever UFC ‘Fight Week gear’ and a ‘Fight Night kit’ for all UFC athletes. Reebok will also be the exclusive apparel provider for the millions of UFC fans around the world.
The announcement is a landmark in mixed martial arts and the first of its scope in combat sports. The deal will eliminate independent sponsorships in the UFC’s Octagon, which athletes have long relied upon to supplement fight purses.
Fighters no longer will be permitted to wear independent sponsorships during a fight or the promotion leading up to it, but can maintain sponsorships outside of events.
UFC president Dana White told ESPN.com that all initial profits from the rights agreement will go directly to the approximately 500 rostered athletes.
“There are some costs associated with running this, but other than those costs, every dime of this deal goes to the fighters,” White said. “This isn’t a six-year money grab. This is a long-term relationship we’ve created with Reebok. We’re investing in the fighters, they’re investing in the sport. It makes all the sense in the world to get the fighters invested in this thing.”
The pay structure will allocate funds per-fight, based on a tiered ranking system. Champions will receive the largest payment, followed by fighters ranked Nos. 1-to-5, 6-to-10, 11-to-15 and unranked. UFC’s official rankings are voted on by media outlets and are overseen by the company. ESPN.com does not vote in the UFC rankings.
In addition to benefiting UFC athletes and fans, the Reebok and UFC alliance also has a significant charitable component. Starting in 2015, a percentage of sales from Reebok/UFC product will directly benefit Fight for Peace, an international NGO that uses boxing and martial arts, combined with education and personal development, to realize the potential of young people in communities that suffer from crime and violence.
“This partnership is much more than a licensing agreement,” said Matt O’Toole, President, Reebok. “It is a true collaboration between two great brands, which will not only give UFC a new and exciting look, but it will harness the global reach of both brands to also benefit young people around the world, particularly those at risk of being involved in crime and violence.”
“Together with Reebok we are changing the landscape of MMA,” said Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Working with another global brand with such a strong history in training and fitness will deliver long-term value for UFC athletes and their brands by elevating and further professionalizing the events and the sport. Every UFC athlete will benefit from high quality performance apparel specifically developed, tested and produced for MMA athletes. Never before has the sport had a global athletic footwear and apparel brand committed to investing so much in the research and development of products specifically for MMA.”
The Reebok/UFC apparel line, including the ‘Fight Week gear,’ ‘Fight Night kit,’ and UFC fan gear, will be developed in conjunction with UFC and its athletes, including current Reebok athletes UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks and UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis. In addition, UFC athletes will be helping Reebok to develop a new fight training-specific apparel collection.
“Not only is Mixed Martial Arts one of the fastest growing sports in the world, it is also one of the most challenging in terms of the dedication to training, overall fitness level and mental and physical toughness required. And nowhere is this on display more than in the UFC Octagon,” said O’Toole. “This partnership not only further cements Reebok as the leading fitness brand in the industry, it will also help us reach a wider audience and become the brand of choice for the more than 35 million consumers worldwide who use disciplines like boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts to live a fit lifestyle.”