Ronda Rousey is already the UFC’s biggest star. Now, she’s headed toward becoming the front woman for one of the company’s biggest business power moves.
A UFC uniform deal has long been rumored ever since UFC president Dana White floated the idea earlier this year. When and if an apparel contract is brokered, Rousey is "highly likely" to be the face of it, Mike Mossholder, the UFC’s senior vice president of global marketing partnerships, told Ad Week.
Mossholder said the UFC is "actively engaged in conversations" with a "premium apparel line" for an exclusive uniform deal for the organization’s nearly 500 fighters. Mossholder would not reveal the outfitter and Nike, Reebok and Under Armour reps either declined comment from Ad Week or could not be reached.
Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Junior dos Santos have sponsorships with Nike. Georges St-Pierre is signed by Under Armour. Reebok and Adidas are relative newcomers to the MMA landscape. Reebok has a deal with Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler just signed with Adidas.
Rousey, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion, has endorsements deals with Xyience Xenergy and Metro PCS, but is also sponsored by the UFC when she competes in the Octagon. Rousey told Ad Week that she liked how Mike Tyson fought in plain black trunks and wants to keep sponsors to a minimum.
"You give yourself more value if you don’t walk out looking like a race car covered in ads," Rousey said. "I like to think my sponsors are valued more because it looks more clean."
Rousey, represented by powerhouse agency WME, said she is interested in more deals, but is in "no rush," because she wants to be totally committed to her sponsors. Rousey stars in "The Expendables 3," which opens Aug. 15.
Ad Week reports that Rousey is No. 3 in ticket sales for the UFC. Xyience president John Lennon said when the energy drink put Rousey’s image on cans sales jumped 12 percent. Recently, Rousey has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker and will be the focus of an upcoming ESPN short film. She is coming off a 16-second knockout of challenger Alexis Davis at UFC 175 on July 5.
As far as a uniform deal goes, White has said it would be better for fighters, especially at the lower levels, who have trouble finding sponsors. Nike is paying the NFL an estimated $1.1 billion over five years to put its logo on uniforms. It’s unclear how much the UFC would get from an apparel company and exactly what percentage would go toward the fighters.