Sean O’Malley has claimed that Rebook only paid him $3k as part of their sponsorship deal, despite him generating the company over a million dollars in sales.
The UFC’s underpayment of fighters has become a hot topic as of recent, and its sponsorship deal with Reebok is no exception.
In 2015, the organization signed a six-year agreement with the clothing company. As part of the agreement, Reebok would supply all fighters’ apparel. This would also mean that fighters could not represent their own sponsors during or around their fights. Some fighters also have personalized apparel under the Reebok banner.
One of those fighters is Sean O’Malley, whose quirky style is reflected in his “Suga Show” Reebok shirts and gear. Following his skyrocket to fame and recent KO win over Eddie Wineland, his shirts have been flying off the shelves. According to O’Malley, he was paid incredibly low royalties given the success of his clothing.
“I got royalties from Reebok,” O’Malley said on Brendan Schaub’s Food Truck Diaries. “If I read it right, which I think I did—and I even sent it to my dad like, ‘Did I read this right?’ He said yes, so unless we both can’t read. They made over a million dollars on all my merch, and I got like $3,000.
“It’s ridiculous. I thought I got 15%, but they’re like ‘Well, you get 15% of this, but of this, and then these guys get it, and then you get 50% of that.’ I’m like holy sh*t,” O’Malley added. “Then, they make all these sweet shirts on Reebok … and I’m like don’t buy that!”
All athletes make a significant portion of their income from brand and sponsorship deals. Even though O’Malley couldn’t give exact numbers or specify if the million-dollar sum was gross or net revenue, it certainly appears that the fighter received the short straw in the UFC-Reebok fighter deal.
If O’Malley wants more control over his branding and sponsorships, he might have to follow in the footsteps of MMA superstar, Conor McGregor. The Irishman is a extremely wealthy after creating his own whiskey brand and clothing company. One benefit of the UFC-Reebok deal is that fighters are allowed to rock their own sponsorships or companies outside of the cage. O’Malley could take advantage of that with his own merch.
Also, O’Malley might not have to deal with Reebok for much longer as the company’s contract with the UFC is nearing its end. The current deal is set to expire at the end of 2020. According to reports, the UFC is in talks with other major sporting brands and are looking at their options.