MMA and Fighter Sponsorship

As the sport of Mixed Martial Artis progresses, so does the sponsorship organizations and the actual sponsorships that the fighters receive. The UFC octagon is littered with sponsors that would make any other sport quite envious. A few high-profile advertisers are Burger King, Bud Light, and Harley Davidson.

It’s easy for the UFC to sell sponsorship slots int he octagon because it is quite visible throughout the events. Fighters will circle and grapple on the Bud Light advertisement for hours. However, the more difficult feat is for the fighters to obtain the same sponsors that the organization has partnered with. Fighters have limited camera time and some may never even reach televised broadcast.

The UFC has made it even more difficult for some sponsors to advertise with the ZUFFA family. THE UFC is known to charge possible sponsors a $50,000 per year tax. This alone has cost some fighters a sponsorship.

For example, Tim Kennedy is sponsored by Ranger Up clothing brand. When Strikeforce was purchased by ZUFFA, the clothing company had to pay the UFC sponsor tax. The decision was made by the company that the deal was not financially worth the cost.  For brands like Tap Out, Jaco or other companies that have multiple fighters on one card, this is not a tough decision. Smaller brands looking to grow find this decision to be monumental.

It has been apparent that the UFC is doing their best to solely allow sponsors that are considered to be more mainstream. The days when Tito Ortiz has Spanky’s Playhouse adult website on his shorts are long gone. Also, gambling website adverts are gone as well. Gun and ammo advertisers have been nixed as well, and Fox television deal is the likely cause of this UFC decree. Fox wouldn’t allow any questionable advertisements to have airtime during NFL games and they apply the same rules to MMA.

Unaired, preliminary fighters in the UFC can make up to $10,000-15-000, however that amount can double if the fight is aired on the main card. When fights are aired on Spike TV, fighters could earn over $30,000.  Even a non-superstar fighter could earn between $30,000-50,000 on the main card of a pay-per-view. The amount would escalate if they take part in the co-main or main events.

On the other hand, fighters that are on a PPV card can earn well over a six figure pay in the UFC.
Advertisers know the opportunity and possibilities of using MMA fighters to represent and market their products. Only time will tell if fighters will even be considered valuable assets to businesses and other marketing techniques.

Harry Dalian, MMA