Since the UFC aligned with Reebok in 2015, countless fighters and media members have spoken out against the deal, reasoning that it takes sponsorship dollars away from the athletes.
Heavyweight talent Brendan Schaub famously walked away from the UFC after the six-year, $70 million agreement was announced, telling fans he stood to lose thousands of dollars in sponsorship money. Schaub raised eyebrows by revealing he was making six figures per fight from sponsors before Reebok came on board. He said he would go from roughly $100,000 to $10,000 each contest if he agreed to compete under the new guidelines.
Other fighters and MMA personalities -- ranging from "Stitch" Duran to Cat Zingano -- have also openly blasted the Reebok deal. Is the situation really as grim as some have made it out to be? Clearly some UFC athletes have taken a hit, but the overall picture may not be as bad as it seems.
MMA Junkie recently reported that over $12 million has been paid out to UFC athletes since the Reebok outfitting program was unveiled in 2015. Last year, over $7 million was delivered to fighters just for wearing Reebok gear to the cage and for weigh-in appearances. And in 2017, close to $3 million has already been dished out to the athletes.
Of course, no one knows how much total money in sponsorship deals would have been paid out if Reebok was never in the picture. But what's absolutely clear to see is that the new outfitting program isn't as terrible as it sometimes appears. Once the six-year deal is up, it'll be interesting to see if Reebok renews. The company hasn't received much positive press since aligning with the UFC, so there's a chance the partnership could blow up once the deal expires.