Fighters asked to wear The Rock’s shoes, but won’t be paid by new UFC sponsorship

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“For those who walk along the path.”

This is the slogan of the UFC and Project Rock co-branded shoes which were announced as the official shoes of the MMA promotion. During the launch, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson repeatedly praised the fighters for all the hard work and sacrifices they make on a daily basis.

Fighters and their teams have been asked to wear these new Project Rock shoes at events, but as Bloody Elbow has learned from multiple sources, these athletes will not benefit from the new contract.

According to several fighters and managers who wished to remain anonymous, the athletes received no additional compensation for wearing the new branding. This was also confirmed by a fighter at UFC 279, who wore The Rock products during fight week.

“The values ​​and the foundations of Project Rock, they’re so aligned with the values ​​and the foundations of the UFC and the fighters,” Johnson said in his latest marketing campaign.

Since 2011, Johnson has been a client of Endeavour, which currently owns the UFC.

Nate Diaz, the main attraction of this PPV event, fired off the new UFC sponsorship deal ahead of his headlining fight.

“Those f-king shoes suck,” Diaz said in an interview with UFC and ESPN’s Megan Olivi. “Look at these shoes, they made me put this shit on. F–k these shoes!

Diaz’s comments were cut and not included in ESPN’s final clip.

The original 2014 Reebok gear deal was actually made up of two components, clothing – or uniforms – and a shoe deal. In March 2021, Venum replaced Reebok, but only as the official uniform sponsor.

Having only recently launched their new marketing campaign, the UFC has signed a lucrative contract multi-year deal with Under Armor and Project Rock in January 2022. Under Armor is the parent company of Project Rock, which helped Dwanye Johnson’s brand become the Official Global Footwear Partner of the UFC.

Fighters will not receive any additional compensation for the new products they wear.

Why? The way UFC contracts are structured, regardless of how many new sponsorship deals, logos, and merchandise these fighters have to wear (Venum, Project Rock, Crypto.com, etc.), these are all simply considered part of the promotional guidelines. they have already put forward.

Fighters are paid in tiers based on their number of fights with the promotion or by champion/challenger status. Those who do not comply with the guidelines would not be paid, and any additional UFC sponsorship would not technically change this contractual compensation structure.

It’s also worth noting that when Reebok was previously criticized for the low salaries athletes received, the company distanced itself and said that these “are dictated by the contract between the individual fighter and the UFC.”

UFC 2018 promotional guidelines include rules for using only apparel, headgear, fight gloves, shoes, headphones, mouth guards, knee sleeves and wraps or ankles, flags and various accessories such as socks, headbands, bags and towels.

This setup opens up the already burgeoning UFC business to plenty of sponsorship opportunities and additional revenue streams, but sadly not really for fighters.


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