Things are about to get pretty “International Fight League”-ish in the Octagon. At a media luncheon in Las Vegas, N.V. , Dana White touched upon the idea of uniforms for UFC fighters, and how his organization is close to landing a deal with a major apparel company that would provide them for every fighter in the UFC.
The most notable example of fighters wearing uniforms is the ill-fated IFL, which had team-based competitions. The fighters there wore uniforms that represented the various teams they fought for (i.e., the Quad City “Silverbacks”, the New York “Pitbulls”, etc.). How’d that play out? Disastrously. So why would the UFC want to go that route?
According to Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter, it’s all about the sponsorship game, and how the UFC’s own sponsors would replace much of what appears on fight apparel now.
Bleacher Report’s sources also noted that several spaces on the shorts and shirt will be reserved for fighters and managers to sell their own sponsorships. But outside of those spots, the uniforms will consist mostly of UFC-branded product and the brand of the apparel company.
The uniform deal would seemingly benefit lower-tier preliminary fighters who have trouble selling sponsorships on their own.
White said he has heard from many of his fighters who are exhausted by the sponsorship game, specifically noting the case of Mac Danzig, who appeared at his UFC on Fox 9 bout against Joe Lauzon in December with plain white trunks.
“It’s not as big as everybody makes it out to be. Those are the guys that are making tons of money anyway, and they make big money on sponsorship,” White said. “The lower level guys? They’re not making a bunch of bunch from sponsorship. We just saw the thing go down with Mac Danzig. He said, ‘I’m done. I don’t want to deal with this anymore.’
“Do you know how many fighters call me and say they don’t want to deal with sponsorships anymore? What can you do? It’s not as plentiful as everybody makes it out to be.”
On the one hand, this could be a good thing if it somehow spreads around the sponsorship wealth. On the other hand, this move would take away the free market of individuals finding and securing their own sponsorships, thereby increasing their own revenue streams.
Communism vs. capitalism arguments aside though, the whole thing hinges upon these uniforms not being completely awful (like they were in the IFL).
It’s too soon to know how this thing will play out, but one thing is for sure: hang on to those TapOut, Affliction and Full Contact Fighter clothes you have in your drawer – they’re about to become relics.