Since acquiring the UFC in 2001, a long series of deals was put together that culminated in the largest sale in sports history. One of those deals, however, was not like the others.
The Reebok Deal, which requires fighters to dress up like Uno cards during fight week and in the Octagon, has come under relentless criticism since its garbled ‘Giblert’ debut. It is abundantly apparent that there is no one in a position of power at Reebok MMA that is a hardcore devotee of the sport. If they were, they would say “this sucks, change it.”
But looks are far from the biggest problem that the sport has with Reebok. The latest figure to take a stand is former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, whose problem with the line appears to be not aesthetic, but financial. Werdum got $10,000 to wear Reebok in his last fight, and he does not think the sum is sufficient.
So he protested on his social network.
Werdum captioned it “Não sou genérico, sou @nike desde criancinha! #chupa #mishuevos #reebok.”
That translates as “I am not generic, I am Nike since childhood.” The hashtags translate as “Suck by balls, Reebok.”
“I was protesting,” said Werdum, as transcribed by Danny Segura for MMA Fighting. “Actually, I’m not forced to use Reebok. I don’t have a contract with them. For people that don’t know, Reebok sponsors, well, sponsors, only during the fight and in the fight week you have to wear it ], it’s in the contract. In reality, I don’t have a deal with them to post outside the UFC.
“I can post whatever I want, if I want to post Kings MMA, I’ll post. If I want to post Nike or any other company or the sponsors I have, anything, so I’m not obligated. For people saying I’d get in trouble, there will be no trouble. It was just a protest, something that before we could show any sponsor we wanted. We used to get real good money, it was a lot different from Reebok. Today, with Reebok there is a pay scale if you have a certain number of fights you get $5.000, $8.000. Of course, it’s good money, but nothing like it was before, so, of course, it was a protest.”
“I think fighters need to start speaking because no one is happy. It’s something that is in our contract, we have to sign it and end of story. We don’t have options. It was nice because it was featured even in Globo.com. People talking, ‘Werdum signed with Nike’, no, but if Nike is interested, we’re here.
“So just to clarify, the people thinking I will get in trouble, nothing will happen. I even tell the fighters, if some company won’t sponsor you, you have to cover up their names, gloves, shin guards, don’t make free promotion. That’s our job, our image, our fights. Just because someone sends you some gloves you don’t need to keep making several posts with them. That’s not how it works, you have to value your image.”
The Reebok Deal is all the more inexplicable, given that the UFC has signed so many tremendous deals, culminating in the $4,000,000,000 sale of the entire company. How did the Reebok Deal happen?