We’re just a few hours away from one of the biggest and most exciting cards of the year, but rather than run another GSP/Diaz story, it’s probably best that we take a serious step back from our undying fandom and look at the changing nature of our sport, it’s athletes, and it’s sponsors. Chris Camozzi took to his blog yesterday to shed light on a trend that is making it’s way through every entertainment industry – the undercutting of the entertainer. It was just a few years ago when fighters would have sponsorships equal to their fighter pay if not more, but now, with the the fledgling economy and saturated market full of fighters, sponsorship dollars are shrinking away, and less money is being doled out.
Normally, this would make a fighter just accept less cash, but not UFC 158’s Chris Camozzi, he puts it well: Refusing to sell out but always for sale. Read this eye-opening blog post about standing up for your market value’s worth in the rough and tumble business of the fight game.
I do not know about the rest of the guys in the sport but my road to the UFC is full of broken bones and a lot of blood sweat and tears. As UFC 158 is upon us I am on the cusp of achieving my dream of fighting on one of the biggest cards of the year.
So that must mean a huge financial windfall right? I mean it is UFC 158, a GSP card, no one is a bigger draw than GSP. The sponsors must have lined up to be a part of this golden opportunity, right?
Not when so many other fighters and managers in the sport are selling the same opportunity for a fraction of what it is worth.
Don’t worry I am not going to call out anyone in particular for lowering the bar; it was lowered long before UFC 158. PPV walkout tees have gone from a big payday for fighters to essentially non-existent. The fighters do not seem to care about how little they make and it seems like managers don’t either when it comes to sponsorship. This used to be such a big part of the sport. Maybe it is because they did not work as hard as me to get here, or maybe it is because they do not work as hard as me for the sponsors outside of the Octagon. Whatever the reason, things have gone from bad to worse and I won’t contribute.
I won’t lower the bar.
Fighters and Managers want to talk about how unionizing the sport is what’s needed. Truth is they are just being lazy and want rules and third parties to set a baseline that they should be working to increase at every opportunity. What product has been commoditized faster than the UFC athlete sponsorship? Even just a couple years ago it was very possible to earn $10K for your walkout shirt alone being featured on the UFC main card. Yet in 2013 I turned down offers that were in the $3K range for my walkout shirt. You can’t lower the bar and expect better, you can’t be willing to accept less while demanding more.
How is a guy that is complaining about sponsors going to say he turned down money?
I am not complaining about sponsors, I have some great sponsors. I am saying that the fighters that are allowing the bar to be lowered are doing the sport a great disservice. The UFC is one of the biggest names in the sports world, and you could not buy 30 seconds on your LOCAL cable network for the same price some of my peers are selling sponsorships for. You couldn’t afford to take any executive out to lunch in LA for what some of my peers are selling sponsorships for.
Everyone bitches about fighter pay, yet if it wasn’t for the pay from the promotion fighters would be broke. Yet the sponsors depend on us fans. The UFC built the popularity, built the platform and allows us to sell ourselves from the platform.
So for the rest of you guys and all of you who are on your way up, stop diminishing the value of reaching the top. We have a lot to be proud of, the UFC is a HUGE platform that exudes value. Just say no and watch the sponsors pay more. I did.
I will take the first stand.
I left money on the table, money I need. I did it for you, will you do it for me? Stop lowering the bar, these brands need to be in these events. They paid five to seven figures for PERMISSION to advertise on us, shouldn’t the ads be worth more? If permission is worth $15,000 per fighter, then the actual ad is worth what?
Thank you to my sponsors Revgear, Triumph United, Muscle Pharm, Hatebreed, ToolKing.com, InstaLoans, MGR Construction, Alienware and Fulmer Helmets.
Thank you to my gym Factory X Muay Thai and my management team at Ingrained Media.
Also a big shout out to Frank Edge and Frank’s Fight!