UFC Fight Kit

What is it?

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (Henceforth abbreviated as UFC) is a fight promotion specializing and synonymous with the combat sport known as” mixed martial arts” (MMA). Reebok is an athletic apparel brand established in the 19th century.

The UFC Fight Kit is an athletic clothing line created from a collaboration between the UFC and Reebok. It is now the enforced dress code for fighters when they fulfill their media obligations and when they compete in contracted bouts. The end result of a lucrative six-year, $70 million dollar exclusivity deal between the companies.

UFC x Reebok

I’m a huge fan of combat sports. It’s competitive, unnerving, yet oddly satisfying all at once. It can be quite brutal but at the end of the day, it is controlled violence and arguably safer than boxing. As far as professional athletes go, the majority of MMA fighters don’t get paid that much (Especially when compared to their boxing counterparts). Many are doing it for the love of martial arts and the thrill of competition, which is admirable. There’s nothing quite like MMA in all of sports. I love it!

That passion does not extend to Reebok. Always the maligned little sibling to the more popular sportswear giants such as Nike and Adidas (The latter of which owns Reebok). In addition to being a perceived weaker brand in the athletic apparel world, the designs of their products were never exceptional. For me, their merchandise has always ranged from kind of ugly to an all-out assault to the ocular senses.

When UFC and Reebok announced their partnership, I had reservations on what the two companies could conceivably come up with style-wise. Let’s face it, MMA apparel has never been a shining example of style and fashion. It turns out this deal would be worse than I could have possibly imagined.

The dark ages of MMA fashion.

The presentation

ART CREDIT: James Ferguson (For the Financial Times).

Dana White, UFC President. One of the very few proponents of the new dress code. A master of ad hominem counterattacks to any criticism of the UFC brand, he regularly engages in fierce, demeaning, profanity-laced Twitter battles like any good executive would. Only in MMA.

The fruits of this collaboration were unveiled June 30, 2015 in New York. Predictably, the event was pure fluff. Cliché boasting and canned hyperbole by corporate management. That this event was the most incredible thing in the history of history. Thankfully, there was plenty of awkwardness to go around but it never really reached the level of trainwreck.

At one point, Todd Krinsky, Vice President of Reebok, boasts about individuality. Apparently, one’s name in terrible font is individuality. Or perhaps he was referring to the colour scheme of the new uniforms (More on this later). Much later in the presentation, another executive, Corrina Werkle (General Manager of Reebok’s “Training Business Unit”), talks about the challenges of producing this gear. Significant challenges like the length of names.

Eventually the lights go out, music hits and models, sorry, fighters are brought out runway style. However, instead of being able to do a u-turn and escape backstage, they were forced to stand awkwardly in formation on stage. The expression on their faces ranged from smiles to bewilderment to the utmost disinterest in the proceedings. But hey, they’re fighters. Their job is to punch each other, not to model clothing.

Nothing says individuality like a mandated work uniform. Bonus points on the attractive crew socks.

Next, the champions of the UFC were brought out for their own special custom fight kits.

Again, individuality, folks. In case the audience was unaware, Werkle exclaims in the least convincing manner possible and I quote “Wow, that absolutely looks amazing! My God!”

If you wish to see the presentation in all its glory:

Reebok: Over 100 years old and still fashionably awful

The UFC has recently gone full force into a nationalistic type of branding for their broadcasts. And so Reebok has been forced (Or probably decided on by the genius of some higher-up) to limit the colour palette of their fight kit line to the colours of national flags. And black. Lots and lots of black. Because nothing says USA like red, white, blue and black.

Everyone, guess the home country of each of these athletes! From left to right: South Korea (Or Canada), Brazil, Russia (Or Canada) and Sweden.

The font Reebok has chosen is generally terrible and typical cliché sports typography (All capital, block letters). Luckily, we don’t have to see too much of it given the odd use of saturated colours that only sportswear companies can achieve.

Black and dark blue. Black and dark grey. White and light greys. Let’s not forget to mention the brilliance of yellow text on white. It’s not like it’s a pattern or a random design element that’s being lost by bad colour choices. It’s the UFC logo, the absolute last thing you want hidden away. The second most important detail are, of course, the fighters’ names. Half the time the names are unreadable due to font size and colour choice.

The back of these shirts. Let’s make first names as small and illegible as possible! God forbid if you have a particularly long first name and/or a nickname. Design 101.

The championship kits are admittedly a lot more tolerable being predominately black, but again, good luck spotting the UFC logo. But at least there’s some fun gold trim. And thankfully, their full names are legible.

As a company that emphasizes the brand above all else, it’s seems baffling that the UFC signed off on these designs. Both parties are telling the public the fighters love the look (Putting aside the humour of the average fighter having a swell of knowledge of proper style). More humorously, Reebok managed to misspell some fighter names or just created fictional fighters. Just incompetence at every level.

This isn’t just criticism for the sake of criticism. This is a consumer product. They want UFC fans to buy and wear these shirts. The suggested retail price is $95 USD. $95. Are these made from the finest silks? Are these handcrafted and stitched one by one by trained Reebok artisans? I understand there’s markup; this is just gouging. I can only hope the fighters are getting generous residuals from these shirts (And rumour has it is that they aren’t).


According to the August 11, 2015 edition of the Untethered MMA podcast, the UFC receives 15% of all Reebok Fight Kit sales. Of that 15%, only 20% goes to the fighters. $3 from each individual Fight Kit sold goes to the respective fighter.

An ambitious idea marred by poor execution

It’s unfortunate that for a project boasting individuality and professionalism, it seems ironic that the UFC Fight Kit is anything but. There is also a more sinister side to this deal, which includes lower fighter pay and the termination of any UFC employee critical of the uniforms. It’s been a PR nightmare for both companies, judging by the very heated response from fans. The UFC in particular has taken an extremely defensive and dismissive attitude towards the criticism, which is only exacerbating the situation.

All that aside, from a purely stylistic standpoint, the UFC Fight Kit is just another in a long line of Reebok design failures. Uninspired, generically designed and poorly thought out in every way imaginable. Just everything you wouldn’t want fashion to be.

The UFC Fight Kit is available online from direct from Reebok.