May wasn’t the best month for the UFC, still the largest most recognizable name in Mixed Martial Arts. It started off with its biggest name in the company, former light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones being arrested for a hit-and-run. Jones hit a car with a pregnant woman in it and then fled the scene but returned to the scene to grab what appeared to be money only to run again after he got what he needed from the car. And all this just months after he tested positive for cocaine. In a surprising move by the UFC, Jones was stripped of his title, pulled from the UFC 187 card and was suspended from the company indefinitely.
Then a couple weeks ago, after already suffering some heavy criticism from its fighters, fans and the media back in December when they signed an exclusive 70 million dollar sponship with Reebok stating that every fighter could no longer wear anything other than Reebok during fight week and into the cage but would be given a guaranteed amount of sponsorship money depending on how many fights they had, the dollar amount was released for the contract showing exactly what the fighters would make. Many thought in the end the fighters were not making enough sponsorship money per fight and that the UFC was somehow trying to shortchange their employees. Dana White has since gone on record to dispute all those rumors saying that all the money from this deal is going to the fighters. The pay scale is as follows:
Fighters with between 1 and 5 fights in the UFC, WEC or Zuffa era Strikeforce will receive $2,500 per fight.
Fighters with 6 to 10 will receive $5,000.
Fighters with 11 to 15 will receive $10,000.
Fighters with 16 to 20 will receive $15,000.
Fighters with 21 or more will receive $20,000.
Champions will receive $40,000 per fight.
Title challengers will receive $30,000
So with its most talented and most marketable fighter on the roster suspended and its fans and employees crying foul play with the Reebok deal, where does that leave the UFC at now? Actually, not as bad of a place as it seems. When looking at the Reebok deal, from a business perspective, the UFC joined forces with one of largest shoe and apparel companies around. This legitimizes their brand even more and will potentially set up many more Fortune 500 companies as sponsors in the future. And this week, it was rumored that the UFC would once again go back and adjust the pay scale to make it better for the fighters. As for Jones, as unfortunate as the situation was, it was just that, a situation. He will be back sooner than later. And Daniel Cormier stepping in for Jones last weekend at UFC 187 and defeating Anthony Johnson for the light-heavyweight title, sets up a perfect re-match for Jones and Cormier at the end of the year, as long as Jones is reinstated to fight.
Bottom line, the American public is very forgiving and will move on. The UFC will just have to do what they do best and put all the focus on the other fight and big names in the company for the summer like women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler and their newest and brightest shining star, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor who has his title fight against one of the most feared strikers in the business, current featherweight champion, Jose Aldo at UFC 187 in July.
Over the past decade, the UFC has provided us some of the most memorable and exciting fights to date. One fighter’s life choices and Reebok coming in doesn’t change any of that. Most of us are the same fans that just paid $100 to watch boxers, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao spar their way to a judge’s decision last month. Change is good. We can handle this change. The UFC will be just fine.