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UFC’s big new uniform deal with Reebok comes equipped with gray matter

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First, the obvious alarm bells with this new "groundbreaking" UFC-Reebok uniform deal. The days of Condom Depot types renting out ass-space on a fighter’s trunks is lamentably coming to an end. No more Dynamic Fasteners. No more Dude Wipes strewn menacingly across the groin. No more angry eyes staring out of Demian Maia’s backside. No more Dennis Hallman and his Smothered Boys. No more ad-dump banners.

Soon it’ll be just be…unif…unif…I can hardly bring myself to type it. Soon it’ll just be uniformity.

And all of this for what? Just so UFC fighters can further venture into the realm of "real sports" legitimacy? I’m not sure I’m totally ready to live in a world where "kits" is a word we use in the "capitalistic system here at the UFC." This is prizefighting, which has always made most sense in a state of rambunctious disorder. It’s easier to believe in chaos than anything streamlined when fists are involved.

Then again, just as the MMA media ducks for cover as the sky begins to fall, I’m reminded of an old hashtag axiom that presents itself in the form of a question: #WhatDoYouFightFor

I remember too an old hashtag truth: #TheTimeIsNow

And I can’t keep myself from dreaming up my own hashtag wisdom: #FreeBeerTomorrow

Reebok and the UFC have entered a six-year deal, the largest non-broadcasting deal the UFC has signed in Zuffa-era history. People will show up to the Octagon in individualized uniforms beginning in July. What that will look like remains to be seen. But if you tuned in for the press conference to make the announcement on Tuesday, you heard that the UFC will deflect all proceeds from this landmark partnership to the fighters themselves for wearing the Reebok uniforms.

According to Dana White, that means, "every single penny."

This, on the heels of a drying out sponsor market and a steep UFC-imposed sponsor tax, would seem pretty philanthropic. But there are a lot of questions -- questions that backseat all these concerns of homogenizing a traveling band of fringe sport rogues who are anything but team players.

For starters: Like, how will all this work?

Apparently it’ll be a tiered system for how the money is distributed down the line, with the champions taking the "lion’s share" of the Reebok kitty on fight night. From there it’s all a pecking order, which will be based on positioning within the UFC rankings. If you are ranked third in your division, you’ll get a higher cut than somebody ranked seventh. If you’re tenth, you’ll see more money than somebody not ranked at all. If you’re Matt Wiman, and enter cage logoless because you don’t like the sleazebag nature of negotiating with sleazebags, you can just remain untainted and pure.

Fighters will also get 20 percent "on the back end" of sales of their specific individualized apparel in perpetuity. That means when Sultan Aliev is all done fighting in the UFC, he’ll continue raking in money from people who buy his shirt. Who needs a 401K when you’ve got that kind of loose-slot perpetuity?

All (conceivably) good.

But the UFC rankings are currently a media-driven enterprise, largely comprised of fringe media within fringe outlets within fringe galaxies. Suddenly these people will determine who gets paid what in the sponsorship game? If there wasn’t a conflict of interest in participating in the UFC rankings as media before, there is now. Suddenly ethics are to be taken for granted in a game where cronyism and agendas are rampant. People can be bribed, not just with money, but with access. The writer-fighter divide can potentially narrow or widen through a series of off-record winks.

In other words: Things could easily be tampered with. And the thought must have occurred to White, too, because no sooner did this red flag begin to wave than he told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani that the current rankings system will be tweaked and revised. "I'm looking for a smaller group of people to be involved with the rankings," he said after the announcement in Manhattan. "I want legitimate guys that I know are very credible and ethical, and we're going to work on that."

That's not all. There's also the fact that fighters commonly drop out of the rankings for a variety of reasons. Dominick Cruz was dropped because he was inactive for nearly three years. If a fighter is injured and therefore removed from the rankings, what does that mean for his cut of this sponsorship pie? Nate Diaz, was removed from the rankings because he was holding out for a revamped contract. If the UFC wants to remove fighters from the rankings arbitrarily, it’s now going to be construed as a financial withholding.

Maybe the UFC will sort those things out as we go.

For now, though, this is a big thing for the UFC. Suddenly a brand that promotes "living a fit lifestyle" (Reebok) is behind a brand forever fending off the stigma of caged hand-to-hand combat (UFC). It’s a long way from where Dana White and the Fertitta brothers started with this thing back when cable TV wanted nothing to do with the spectacle. It is cool to think about all the UFC’s sordid history leading to spotlit moments such as these, where global brands are now hungry to partner into the sport.

How hungry? The president of Reebok, Matt O’Toole, introduced Lorenzo Fertitta as Lorenzo Frittata, that’s how hungry. They shook hands, and off we went into the next chapter.

"This is a true game changer," Fertitta said recently. "We've had a lot of game changers as we’ve built this company, starting from ‘The Ultimate Fighter,' which was a game-changer when we did our deal with Spike, to when we got Budweiser -- the leading sport's sponsor -- onboard with out brand, to landing our FOX deal and partnering up with Electronic Arts.

"Reebok is right there at the highest level in that group of some of the seminal moments, and I think we’ll look back in 10 years, like we look back at when ‘The Ultimate Fighter' launched, we'll look back at this announcement as being that important."

In the end, who knows who gets screwed in the deal or who benefits most. There are a lot of things that need to be answered.

For now, though, one particular thought comes to mind: #SoLongDudeWipes