Toward the end of 2014, UFC struck a monumental deal with athletic apparel company Reebok which made them the official sponsor of the UFC. Gone were the days of independent sponsors being worn inside the octagon; Fighters would wear exclusive Reebok kits and would receive a cut from the UFC as a result.
Once details were finalized surrounding sponsorship payment, several fighters took to social media to speak out against it. While it will be hurting some fighters, Team Alpha Male standout Joseph Benavidez will not only benefit from it financially, but he also believes it’s what best for the growth of MMA as a whole.
“It actually does benefit me financially. The tier I’m in, which is right now the fifteen grand tier, is actually more than I’ve ever made in sponsors in like the last year,” Benavidez told BJPENN.COM.
Benavidez thinks that the individuals who are complaining about the deal need to look at this as an opportunity for the sport to grow. “The people that it’s not benefiting need to look at the sport as a whole… It’s the right thing moving forward for the sport.”
The UFC flyweight believes that the less independent sponsors there are in the octagon, the cleaner and more official the sport will look. “I’m a big fan for the clean look of the sponsors and stuff,” Benavidez said. “I’m sometimes annoyed when I have a sponsor that I don’t believe in or know anything about. I feel like I’m cheating the fans and myself if I have to put something out there— like I’m selling my soul, almost, for a few thousand bucks.”
Rookies stepping into the octagon are slated to make $2,500 in sponsor money and Benavidez believes it’s part of paying dues. “In five years when people come in and they start their one fight deal all the way to five, they’re not even going to think about it because that’s the way it is,” explained Benavidez. “You come in, you’re a rookie and this is what you get paid. You put in your fights, you put in your time, you get the money.”
“Reebok’s obviously an amazing brand and they want to support the sport of MMA so it’s easy to do… For me, it’s a no brainer. I like the deal.”
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