Are fighter sponsorships the UFC’s problem?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Yesterday UFC President Dana White made some harsh statements to the media in regarding to sponsorships fighters get themselves, going so far as to say 'It's not my f—in problem'. The UFC allows athletes to sign in the cage sponsorships, however under some restrictions set by the promotion.'s Luke Thomas argues that White is actually completely wrong and sponsorship exactly are the UFC's problem:

Aside from White's response being a rather cruel dismissal, he's also wrong. Fighter sponsorships actually are the UFC's problem precisely because their direct, conscious decisions about the role sponsors play dramatically influences the market. In addition, the UFC also situates themselves to profit from it, in some cases arguably at the expense of fighters.

White suggests the issue of sponsorships is what happens 'outside of the UFC', as if this is a secondary market the UFC has neither the time nor the inclination to monitor or involve themselves. He positions it as a distant place where fighters and sponsors team up for mutual benefit and he's being asked to solve their problems, problems unrelated to the core of UFC operations.

Yet, those relationships are defined by policies set in place by UFC. Whether it be the invocation of a morality clause or financial hurdle, e.g. the $100,000 sponsor tax, the UFC defines the terms by which sponsors may even approach their athletes (technically independent contractors). The sponsorship of UFC fighters is not an activity that takes place outside of the UFC; it happens through them and under the terms they created. The UFC retains the final word on which sponsors will be allowed to participate and what the complexion of that sponsorship will look like.

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So two sides of the story. Who is right? The UFC pays athletes to compete inside the cage and they are allowed the right to get their own sponsors, with stipulations. So whether or not the athletes can make as much as they would like to, is that their own problem or the UFCs?