For many fighters that moved over to Bellator from the UFC, the sponsorship dollars were likely a big factor in their decisions to switch things up.
Take Ryan Bader for example. Bader said he would be making three to four times as much in personal sponsorship money fighting under Bellator than he was getting with Reebok’s uniform sponsorship deal with the UFC. Bader was also near the top of the pay tier of the Reebok sponsorship program.
Rory MacDonald, on the other hand, says he will actually be taking a pay cut for his initial run in Bellator but has a long-term plan to change that.
“I could have easily went out and got plastered sponsors all over my shorts and banner and stuff and got little sponsors for the fight,” MacDonald said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (transcribed by Dave Doyle for MMA Fighting). “But basically what I’m going out there is for long-term, marquee sponsorships that are going to be solid name brands that are going represent me and I represent them well and be a long-term partnership.”
MacDonald is going for quality over quantity and currently has deals with Everlast and Monster Energy but will look to add a few more key sponsors down the road.
“Give those sponsors big exposure, rather than be clustered and totally packed full of a bunch of different random companies that don’t have any connection to me whatsoever,” MacDonald said. “That’s the strategy, there.”
Interestingly, MacDonald spoke very highly of his individual sponsorship with Reebok. MacDonald was one of a few select fighters including others such as Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Paige VanZant to sign individual deals with Reebok that went beyond the UFC’s exclusive uniform deal.
“They were nice enough to continue the sponsorship after I had signed with Bellator even though they weren’t obligated to,” MacDonald said. “They stuck by my side. We had a great partnership, we had a great deal.”
Although sponsorship dollars may be down, for now, MacDonald says he is overall very happy with what he will be making with Bellator and will look to make a big statement in his debut against Paul Daley this Friday at Bellator 179.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/16/2017.