The UFC and Reebok partnership has been controversial, to say the least. When the details behind fighter compensation were released, both men and women of the octagon voiced their disapproval of the deal. While the payouts may not be exactly what they expected, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey would consider herself lucky if she was in their position when she was just starting out.
“I wish I had this Reebok deal when I was coming up because it would’ve been nice if I didn’t have to hustle for an apparel sponsor,” Rousey told the media after Reebok Kit unveiling.
Fighters like Brendan Schaub and Miesha Tate claim to be losing a majority of their fight-night payout due to the ban of external sponsorships from the octagon. While it sounds like a lazy deal for some, someone like Michael Bisping is happy to see “scumbag” sponsors banned from the cage. Rousey had a bad experience with a sponsorship that stiffed her when she defended her Strikeforce championship against Sara Kaufman.
“The first time I defended my title against Sara Kaufman, I wore Trauma MMA and it was only for nine thousand dollars and they still stiffed me,” said Rousey. “They just didn’t even pay me and what am I even going to do about it? What could I do about it? You think that athletes have a bunch of money to go sue somebody for taking advantage of them? No.”
“And I still to this day, after I got stiffed on that one brand, I never worked with an apparel sponsor again because I just didn’t trust anyone,” she continued. “It’s nice to work with people that I can trust.”
Rousey is a big believer in the tier system which pays fighters more money for each appearance they make inside the octagon. “I think it’s awesome, not only that they have this deal and a tier system, but the more they win the more, they make and they can get their individual deals as well,” she said. “It’s so nice that you don’t have to worry any more and you feel protected and to know that every single cent of the Reebok deal goes to the athletes. The UFC doesn’t keep any of it.”
Transcribed by Michael Stets of MMA Mania
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