We all know the whole Randy Couture vs. UFC deal; it is dragging on in the courts and in some ways out of sight out of mind. Recently, as in within the last few weeks, Zuffa and the UFC have announced a number of big licensing and merchandising deals. This seems like a great opportunity for the fighters, but those who have an understanding of this sort of thing, are saying, hold the phones!
As the aforementioned, people who understand this stuff describe it, the contract is ridiculously one sided, giving the UFC the ability to frolic through green fields of crisp one hundred dollar bills. While the fighters are held in something of a prison without bars, and fed nickels and dimes only if they perform.
You can read a great article on the agreement at MMAFA.tv, and thanks to a Sherdog.com poster For the Love of MMA for bringing this to our attention. It does raise some interesting questions...so let's hop from one side of the fence to the other and see which side we land...just hopefully not right in the middle.
What is fair? The UFC did in fact work to build a monstrous brand, one that truly is synonymous with MMA. Since they've done this in such an adept fashion, should they be the ones to reap most of the monetary rewards?
Then again, without the fighters climbing into the Octagon, the UFC could not exist. The fighters are the ones who put their bodies on the line, so shouldn't they get more of, if not the lion's share of the monetary rewards?
It is common however in other industries, for royalties to fall in the 10% to 20% range, and besides much of the sells generated on the various merchandise might in fact be due to the UFC brand, not a single fighter or even a group of fighters. So maybe the agreement is fairer than it seems?
When are we going to give credit where credit is due? In no other sport is the business focused on, more than the athlete. Fans don't watch the NFL or NBA because it is the NFL or NBA, they watch it because of the athletes, and MMA should be no different, therefore the fighters should be getting a much better deal?
My semi-insightful take...
I don't know the answers to the above questions and there are about a thousand more that my peon brain can't comprehend. It is a convoluted situation to say the least. Just the type of thing you'd expect to find in big business, let's just hope that big business doesn't eventually run over the sport.
For more articles like this, check out my blog Sports by the Numbers MMA.