By Zach Arnold | June 24, 2009
UFC is now reportedly asking for $100,000 rights fees just for a company to even be ‘eligible’ to sponsor fighters. A company generating strong PPV revenue is this hard up for cash? Hardly. This comes off, in my opinion, more like petty politics every day in terms of controlling what fighters can make with sponsorships and also going after anyone they don’t have great relations with (think about past dealings with groups like American Kickboxing Academy) by going after their sponsors instead of going after the fighters directly.
One of the companies reportedly on the banned list is One More Round, which happens to the clothing company associated with Jacob “Stitch” Duran. Why is Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, and others going after a cut man?
I know and understand that sports leagues like MLB and the NFL have certain sponsorship deals with companies for uniforms and so forth. However, athletes in these sports are paid full time (seasonal), have benefits, insurance, etc. By going after so many sponsors in the manner that UFC is doing, this is pure divide-and-conquer politics at its worst in terms of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Josh Stein further elaborates:
It would be unfair to accuse the UFC of intentionally damaging our access to an improving quality of MMA, but it is not entirely unfair to assert that they are depriving fighters of their right to negotiate personal contracts with sponsoring companies. Whether the fighters choose to address this with open complaints, or whether it is simply fans discussing the issue, it is important to recognize that Zuffa LLC may be toeing the line, if they have not already stepped well over, with respect to their privledge as broadcasters.
The timing of this is interesting, given how much hype and media attention there will be for UFC 100. The company has a patch of red hot shows, from UFC 100 in LV to the Philadelphia event to the upcoming Portland event.