Headline MMA Ultimate Fighting

MMA Fighters Yearn For Competition

With EliteXC officially out of the fold, what does the current landscape of Mixed Martial Arts fighting look like?  How will it affect the looming entrance of sports agents into the mix?  Urijah Faber (pictured right), subjectively known as the top fighter in the WEC (owned by the same company that owns UFC), is safe to earn a substantial amount of money at least in the short term, but overall, he does not like what he sees.

Sports agents earn their value due to a unique ability to negotiate deals at the higher end of the market.  The main tool used is leverage.  Leverage is often formed when there is some sort of competition and an agent can pit one entity up against at least one other.  Let’s use basketball as an example.  An average NBA player in free agency can have his agent work potential deals with the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.  If both teams are interested in the player, the price may be driven up.  Additionally, with going overseas as a viable option, an additional form of leverage may be used.

Now take that example and try to apply it to MMA.  The IFL is gone and EliteXC quickly followed the path to doom.  What’s left?  With little competition, Zuffa, LLC has been able to dictate most of the terms to its UFC and WEC fighters.  The end result could be something very similar to what is currently happening in the bowling world.  There, the PBA is supreme.  If you do not want to sign their standard boilerplate contract, then peace out.  Now do you understand why Faber is concerned?  He is making $40,000 per fight, but is smart enough to realize that such figures are not set in stone.  With competition dwindling down, his salary may fall along with it.

Unfortunately, there is little that an agent can do in this space.  Typically, an agent can negotiate endorsement/sponsorship deals for any athlete, but terms of “playing” contracts are usually only dealt with for those athletes who participate in team sports.  You do not see Mark Steinberg of IMG negotiating Tiger Woods’ deal with the PGA.  There really is no deal to broker.  However, since MMA fighters are paid per fight, perhaps they could use an agent to negotiate those individual prizes with guys like Dana White.  I see MMA as a large opportunity for agents in the future.  Their role will be enhanced if some form of legitimate competition to the UFC and WEC arises.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

9 replies on “MMA Fighters Yearn For Competition”

Me and my associates deal with professional boxers and mma fighters. We provide professional services, such as sponsorships, PR, marketing, legal and accounting.

The combat sports industry has gone increased in value due to the increase of fighters and viewers alike. Since 2006, the market worth of MMA has increased to 15% plus. This is due to people over the world having higher interests in MMA and how the sport is advertised.

We are looking to represent both boxing and MMA fighters.
Please reply to this email and we can provide you with further details,

Honestly, representing MMA fighters is a waste of time.

First, the UFC controls everything at this point. There is no other league that can pay or give the exposure to a fighter that the UFC can do. Secondly, a few mainstream companies have bought space of the ocatagon floor but no major company (beer, cola, etc.) has/nor will stepped up to sponors a fighter. As popular as it maybe there are major issues for the sport –
1. No matter how popular it will always be a niche sport because of the violence. Not to repeat myself but Fed Ex, UPS, Budweiser, Home Depot, etc.. are going to pour their money into mainstream non-offensive sports.
2. No matter how much you market a fighter and how good he appears to be he can get knocked out at any second. Hard to build a marketing plan around somebody who could get knocked out in 10 seconds and won’t fight again for another 6 to 9 months.
3. Outside of the top 6 to 10 guys, they are interchangeable. There is a big pool of name quality fighters that the UFC can say take it or leave it because they have no where to go.

I think the UFC is great and is very entertaining. It will have its niche and generate millions of dollars for the owners and a few top line fighters but for the rest fighters/agents is not very profitable nor does it look to ever be. I am sure boxing is the same way and once Budweiser pulled out of sponsoring fight night on USA network it has yet to generate any type of corporate backing to stay in the mainstream. Occasionally, on ESPN but that is about it.

hi bobby
good feed back.
You seem to have a lot of knowledge of the UFC game, do you work in the sports industry at all?

I was thinking of spreading the sponsorship, as it a fairly new sport to the masses.

I value your opinion

Just to address a couple of your points.
1) Strikeforce has a Saturday late-night TV deal with NBC. Around a million people a week watch; not to UFC levels, but they are also currently negotiating a live event deal which could change the game.
2) Budweiser signed both Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva to official spokesperson deals.
3) Yes it is a violent sport; so is football which is extremely violent but accepted as part of the fabric of our country. Over time as the public gets more comfortable with it, the perception of MMA will change. Remember, millions already take part in martial arts training. There is a huge potential group of fans.

hi bobby
thats a really valued comment you made.

do you think that boxing is the same?

Who are the major share holders in UFC?

Boxing will almost always be on the back burner until a dominant american heavy weight is the champion. Even then I think the sport will struggle. The reality is unless you have a major network and ESPN behind you the sport will always be a secondary sport. If you don’t believe, go ask hockey. Look beyond their attendance and you will see decline in every other aspect of their business.

I really enjoy the UFC and the entertainment value however the violence and lack of constantly not having the same elite fighters fight all the time will always be issue.

In regards to Mike comments about football –

Football is a team sports. So, you have cities and universities that back the teams. While the players may change, the team remains the same.

Yes, there are millions taking part in MMA training but there are also many millions of kids playing soccer for over 30 years now and still the sport has not become popular in the mainstream. While I do think MMA is more exciting than soccer having millions on new participants does not equal success.


I disagree with most of what Bobby said. What is the number one goal in marketing my friends? To sell the sizzle. Sure MMA may have a niche market, but it also strikes an emotion in everyone that watches a MMA fight. Marketing is should strike emotion in its target market. With the right push, a fighter can easily secure major sponsorship dollars. Its only a matter of time before we see the likes of Nike and Addidas on the cage floor.

Not to mention, major networks are now starting to pick up stories on MMA. ESPN, Yahoo Sport, Fox Sports, etc. Nobody puts sponsorship dollars behind an organization or fighter if they will not see a ROI.

i have someday i’m trying to get in to fighting. if i wanted to get him started how can i manage this oppertunity?

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