The UFC has given a small increase for newcomers, but has also added mandatory promotional duties for the entire roster.
The UFC has just made changes to a few of their policies for the athletes on their roster. One of these include a slight pay bump for the promotional newcomers, in terms of Reebok sponsorship payout.
Previously, the policy was to pay $2,500 for fighters who have had 0-5 fights in the UFC. On this altered scheme for Reebok, they will now be paying $3,500 for those with 0-3 fights, and $5,000 for those with 4-5 fights.
That $5000 is the same amount they gave to those with 6-10 fights, which will not be changing. The rest of the previous payouts for the more experienced fighters, title challengers, and champions will also remain the same.
Apart from the $1000 and $2500 increases in their minimum pay for newcomers, they have also added mandatory promotional duties for all the fighters in the roster.
As MMA Fighting notes, “Athletes are now obligated to provide “four days of ‘advance’ media promotions, six hours of ‘fight week’ promotion, and one hour of ‘post-fight’ promotion.” Athletes competing in headlining bouts — main or co-main events — are additionally required to permit the UFC filming access “eight days prior to a fight.” The UFC can also request a “one-day, eight-hour commercial shoot” twice a year for each of its individual athletes.”
Since the UFC fighters have not organized, they have no power to collectively bargain these changes like other athletes in major sports organizations. Similar to the time the UFC essentially banned outside sponsorship in favor of this Reebok deal, the absence of a proper union or association meant that the fighters don’t need to be consulted and they had zero say in how or when the UFC decides to alter these policies.
From the UFC’s perspective, they can technically say that they did give an “increase” to their payouts, while also making these business moves of ensuring far better promotion of their events by making these media and commercial duties mandatory.
When the Reebok deal was initially implemented, fighters lost most (if not all) of their outside sponsorship and many complained about the big pay cut on what they’re taking home from each bout. Now, UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein has lauded this $1000 and $2500 increase as something great, since a lot of fighters fall under those two tiers of having 0-5 fights.
“This gives the shorter-tenured fighters on our roster an increase,” Epstein told ESPN. “We felt this was the most impactful, meaningful way to get more money to our athletes.”