“When you find the perfect fit, it just feels right.”
A seven-year deal between Reebok and the UFC came to an end last week, an era littered with frustration, controversy and misspelled names.
Since 2014, the UFC has banned the use of external sponsors during fight-week, severely limiting a fighters’ potential to earn. Apart from a marginal pay increase with the new Venum deal, nothing much has changed.
With the official reign of Venum underway at UFC Fight Night this Saturday, the first fight-week collection has been released. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.
If you have fought in the UFC five times or less, the new Venum deal will earn you $500 more during fight-week. Paid in merchandise alone, that would equate to only four pairs of Venum shorts.
At a staggering $140 per pair of long-fit shorts, it would be hard to find a more expensive way to respectfully expose your knees while walking down the street.
Add the rest of the basic kit to your basket and you’ll be pushing $500 at checkout, staring at the URL in disbelief as it says "UFC" not "Calvin Klein." Whether you "find the perfect fit" or not, the UFC shareholders certainly know the price feels right.
“Inspired by the journey, evolved for the future” is the tagline from Venum and the UFC.
Maybe the Venum gear is so expensive because the design team has spent thousands of hours painstakingly reinventing fighter apparel?
Not really. There isn’t much difference from the previous Reebok incarnation. If anything, it somehow looks less striking, even the "champion" range is set to a dull grey palette - so dark, in fact, that at times it is hard to make out what the fighters are wearing in the promotional video.
Apart from the head of a snake, it seems that not much thought has gone into the design of this range.
1. Progress in the UFC
While the new Venum range is expensive and perhaps lacks a creative edge, it is still a small step in the right direction for the UFC.
There were far too many mishaps on Reebok’s part during the previous seven-year deal. Countless printing mistakes left UFC fighters frustrated at the carelessness of the fight-week apparel brand.
Founded in 2006, Venum has been worn by MMA fighters for quite some time now, so the company goes into the new UFC deal better prepared than Reebok was in 2014. If they listen to feedback from the fighters and the fans, then there’s no reason to doubt this will be an evolution of UFC outfitting.