Additional details are starting to trickle out regarding the UFC’s new $100,000/6 month sponsorship license fee and the EA Sports MMA video game ban.
Here’s Dana White’s other favorite MMA journalist (alongside Loretta Hunt), SI.com’s Josh Gross, on Zuffa’s motivations behind the sponsorship fee and what it means for the fighters.
For the UFC, according to sources familiar with the company’s thinking, motivations are simple: the promoter wants its share, which it believes it earned by providing the platform for fighters to make significant sponsorship dollars; protection for official sponsors, such as Bud Light and Harley Davidson; additional control over brands gaining exposure to UFC audiences; and to further marginalize MMA agents and managers.
That decision could cost fighters 35- to 40-percent of their sponsor-generated revenue, according to one veteran MMA agent, which is significant considering the UFC likes to sell the potential of increased sponsorship dollars as a way to augment fighter purses.
For instance, one top competitor on the card could miss out on as much as $300,000 in guaranteed funds after two deals fell through following word of the UFC licensing requirement, SI.com has learned. While a new sponsorship situation emerged that could be as lucrative, nothing is guaranteed.
To clarify, this only pertains to sponsorships for UFC telecasts, not any radio, print or TV sponsorships outside UFC events, such as GSP’s Gatorade deal. Bloody Elbow’s Luke Thomas also added this in their comments section.
I have on very reliable word that Tapout asked for this and the UFC wants to distance itself from the CondomDepot.com’s of the world. Those are the two reasons stated to me.
To be completely honest, I wouldn’t mind at all if the clutter of sponsorships were cleaned up a bit (not that it really bothers me either), but only if it’s NOT at the expense of the fighters, and at least for the lower-mid tier guys, it looks like it will be. Perhaps, Zuffa would be kind enough to compensate for the loss in sponsorships dollars with an proportionate increase in show money? Yeah, probably not.
Moving on, Gross also confirmed that the UFC did in fact issue a warning to fighter agents/managers that their clients would be banned from entering the UFC if they signed a deal with EA Sports to appear in their upcoming MMA video game. Apparently, Dana sees signing with EA as a declaration of war against the UFC (figures).
Beginning the week before July 4, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, at the behest of Dana White, called managers with this message: If you’ve been in the UFC and think maybe you want to come back someday, or you haven’t had the pleasure and plan on fighting in the Octagon, you better not sign that EA licensing agreement.
White is said to be adamant that aligning with EA is no different than declaring war on the UFC and its wildly successful THQ-produced UFC 2009 Undisputed, which sold more than a million copies in its first month. Fighters, from world-class to journeyman, were told the prudent choice was to decline money offers from EA — deals with fighters on the level of Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Nick Diaz, Mo Lawal and Jake Shields, range from $5,000 to $15,000 for a one-game, two-year nonexclusive deal, according to multiple sources.
$5-$15k is actually quite less than I was expecting. Not surprisingly, Mayhem apparently already said screw the UFC and sided with EA, but will someone like Jake Shields, who openly wants to fight in the UFC, risk losing the opportunity once again for up to $15,000? Probably not. It will be interesting to see if EA ups the ante and gives their prospective signees more of an incentive.
And one last thing, Randy Couture is expected to appear on the cover of EA Sports MMA. Maybe they should put this on it instead. Dana would love that.