LAS VEGAS—When it comes to fighter sponsorships in the UFC, the winds of change are blowing.
UFC president Dana White confirmed on Thursday that the UFC is working on a deal to create a UFC uniform.
In December, White promised that he was working on a way to fix sponsorships. On Thursday, White told Bleacher Report that the uniform was one thing he was working on to deliver on that promise, but that nothing was finalized.
"We are. We're working on it," White said. "But nothing yet."
According to multiple sources, the deal is with a major apparel company. Our sources also said the uniform will be head to toe—including fight shorts, walkout shirt and hats—and every fighter in the UFC will wear it.
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 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."
The uniform would also help strengthen the UFC brand across its televised events; instead of an array of logos splashed across garish T-shirts and shorts, there will be a uniform look much like the one in other major sporting leagues.
It is a move that has been long predicted by pundits and those involved in the industry.
The UFC has continually attempted to inch toward becoming a mainstream sporting organization with some of the same traits as other professional sports leagues. And every other league—from the NFL and NBA to Major League Baseball and the Premier League—has its own set of uniforms, so it stands to reason that the UFC would want to capitalize on its own brand instead of allowing other companies to use the Octagon to promote competing products.
What does this mean for fighters with major apparel deals with companies like Nike? One would assume that the apparel company that is tasked with creating these uniforms would not want the logos of its competitors appearing on the uniforms. And what about MMA-specific companies such as Bad Boy or Jaco?
It's too soon to answer many of these questions. But whenever the deal is finally finished and announced, it will immediately become one of the biggest stories of the year.