Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is Mark Pavelich Right? Is Dana White Hustle-Blocking?

Yeah, he said it...
Doing what he does best, Mark Pavelich stirred up the drama this week when he went in on Dana White and the UFC. The Maximum Fighting Championships owner and president voiced his gripes regarding the UFC's clothing sponsorship exclusivity practices in an article title "Yeah, I Said It" posted on the MFC's official website, Pavelich took no shorts in letting folks know how he felt about the UFC's relationships with clothing sponsors:

"I am disgusted by the way MMA clothing brands are buckling to “DW’s” handling of contracts regarding the sponsorship of specific fighters.

...Now “DW” has instructed these other clothing brands that they have to stop sponsoring other MMA events or they will not be allowed to sponsor fighters in his event – even after fully paying him for the right to sponsor and paying the fighters individually. He is collecting money by the armored truck full from these companies, and yet he’s still able to tell them where to spend the rest of their money at the same time."

Pavelich criticized clothing brands who he believes neglect to recognize exactly how the UFC is taking advantage of them. He points out that the UFC is securing titled sponsorships with leading clothing companies while charging smaller competitors a fee to sponsor UFC fighters. In addition, he addresses the UFC's requirement for clothing sponsors to deal with the UFC exclusively.

This situation sounds strangely similar to the situation with EA Sports earlier this year in which Dana threatened to ban any UFC fighter who starred in EA MMA. D-dub eventually rescinded those threats, but interestingly these two incidents center on one word that has become closely associated with the UFC's questionable business practices -- monopoly. Several websites reporting on Mark Pavelich's above mentioned bitch session have used the word to describe UFC business operations.

Now, the UFC is no Microsoft or Google (we won't go there since this is a Blogger site), but there's still thousands, millions of dollars at hand in any UFC business dealing. I might kick myself in the ass later for saying this but I do believe that Mr. Pavelich makes a good point. While I'm sure Pavelich has his own organization in mind, as clothing sponsorships could affect the MFC, the UFC's exclusive clothing sponsorship requirements could have a ripple affect in the MMA business world. By enforcing this requirement, the UFC could be starving smaller promotions. By restricting UFC clothing sponsors to the UFC exclusively, the UFC is keeping potential money away from feeder promotions which, at least indirectly, could hinder financial opportunities for fighters. Oh yeah, the fighters, what about them? After all, aren't they why we're even having this discussion?

My father used to tell me, "Son, never cut off the spoon that feeds you." Now, I'm telling Dana White, "D-dub, never restrict the clothing sponsors that help feed fighters and promotions -- not just the UFC or UFC fighters, but any fighter who's out there hustling to secure a clothing sponsorship that might put gas in his car or food on the table. Stop hustle-blocking!

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