Zuffa is apparently making a bid to "hurt fighters income" according to some UFC athletes who didn’t want to be named.
Some fighters and new sites are noting the UFC is looking at ways to limit sponsorship opportunities for fighters OUTSIDE of UFC. For years, fighters have been able to solicit their own sponsors via hats, drinks, clothing or banner placement. That may be about to change.
Recently, the UFC brass has banned clothing companies from being able to supplement fighters income. Going as far to ban certain companies from UFC broadcasts all together. Some say it’s justified but many fighters dislike it.
UFC may intercept sponsorship deals and bypass fighters/managers if a company is serious about backing a fighter. In turn, UFC would negotiate the sponsorship deal on the fighter’s behalf. Some see good and bad. UFC may be able to get the fighter more money. Some sponsors will not deal with UFC and want the fighter directly. This may be viewed as bullying but if you want your product seen by the target audience, it’s a price you may have to pay as a sponsor/advertiser.
While UFC continues to be a ratings monster and they continue to set PPV records, it’s becoming more evident that established companies should be willing to pay more to be seen. This will, more than likely, eliminate the "mom and pop" fighter gear maker that currently floods the T-shirt industry.
There is also talk of a "licensing contract" where UFC would be able to market a fighter and take a percentage of their earnings (similar to WWE). Most fighters hate this move but when it comes down to it, UFC has every right to do so (ask Team AKA). While it’s a way to protect themselves, many feel UFC is monopolizing the sponsorship part of the game in their favor.
The UFC could potentially dictate who could sponsor each fighter but would probably get the fighter more money.