When the UFC/Reebok apparel deal was announced, a few high profile fighters spoke out against it publicly (Jose Aldo, Brendan Schaub), but for a little while now, it has been quiet. Until recently.
One of MMA most recognizable names, former UFC light heavyweight champion and current middleweight contender, Vitor Belfort, who has his next bout scheduled for UFC 198 against fellow middleweight contender Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, did recently an interview with MMAFighting.com, where Belfort expressed the effects the UFC/Reebok deal has had on him financially.

“I lost a lot of money. I’m not happy. Not with the deal they [Reebok] made with the UFC, it was not the fault of Reebok. I believe the Reebok can still have their deal with the UFC but, we need to have a platform. Maybe we can not use, like apparel. We can not have apparel, but I can have my bank. I can have a phone company, I can have, like you know, not a energy drink.

We see that all the time in major sport, like, extreme sport. Even if Monster does an event. The guy who is sponsored by Red Bull, he still can wear his Red Bull.“

“And even though that Reebok and Monster, they can only sponsor I think 11 athletes. Some people said the UFC helped them pick which one [to sponsor]. So, that’s not fair, with a guy like me. I’m doing this 20 years. I lost millions of dollars with this type of deal, because, I’m doing this for a long time and I have a great image. Big companies that wanna be with me, but they can not. So, it’s not right. And I think it’s time to change.
I’m staying. I’m very thankful for the organization but, in that set of infrastructure, they are wrong. It’s wrong what they are doing and it’s not right, I’m not happy. Not just me but I think most of the fighters, they [UFC] understand that.“

Filmmaker and founder of Tapout Films, Bobby Razak, has released an ad named, ‘Renegotiate Reebok’ where Razak goes hard after the corporation Reebok for their designs, disrespecting fighters by misspelling their names and salaries for the sponsored UFC athletes.

We won’t remain silent

 

Is this a blizzard of some sort, giving us foresight of things to come?

Some fans, media and fighters have been asking for a fighters union of some kind, to speak for fighters interest, like the one Jon Fitch, Ryan Jimmo and Nate Quarry, just to mention a few, are members of – Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA).

The truth is, if MMAFA had all the fighters registered in their association, they would have the power most likely to prevent the UFC/Reebok partnership before it could ever gone into effect. Sadly, the same also goes for the USADA program UFC has implemented in hopes of cleaning up the sport from PED use, inside the promotion.

There seem to be an obvious problem with the structure of the UFC/Reebok deal when it comes to compensations for the UFC athletes. And with UFC brass downplaying the negative financial impact it has for fighters fighting for them, it does feel to be a bad and unbecoming way of dealing with the criticism they’ve received.

Or, is it?

Up to this point, all changes that have been made after listening to peoples outcry has strictly been in details of the design of their product, to correctly spelling fighters names, countries and whose fighters nickname goes with whom. All the things you would expect to be a given, before putting anything out for sale. So, I am asking myself the same question again.

Is this the beginning of a rebellion or is it, to borrow one of Dana White’s many popular frases, ‘Business as usual’?

About The Author

Christian Larusson
Staff Writer

Christian Larusson is a passionate Mixed Martial Arts fan. With experience in writing for Swedish MMA sites, he now solely writes in English through blogging, PunchDrunkSports and The MMA Corner. Got his heart broken early in his life when a friend, ‘Judas’, told him that WWE/WWF wasn’t real. Then one day, he saw MMA on a friend's computer, he was overwhelmed with emotions from what his eyes had just seen. He´s been in love ever since. Christian has been published in different Swedish papers and books, nothing to do with MMA though, so who gives a shh-.