Joe Lauzon is one of the smartest, most grounded people in the UFC. During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, he discussed one of the least smart things in the UFC – The Reebok Deal. You can sum up the debut of the exclusive UFC apparel in one word – Giblert. And you can sum up the look in two words – Uno card.
However, Lauzon cautions that the appropriate response is to take a longer view. His Massachusetts gym, Lauzon MMA, is just 14 miles from Reebok headquarters in Canton, and the fighter has spoken repeatedly with executives from the apparel giant.
“We’ve basically become toxic at this point,” said Lauzon, as transcribed by Dave Doyle for MMA Fighting. “There’s no way that Nike, or Under Armour or some other sponsor is going to come in, because, the UFC took the best offer they got, right? Reebok offered the most money. It’s not like Nike came in and was going to give them more money and the UFC went, ‘No, we’re going to go with Reebok instead.’ They went with the best offer, so Reebok was willing to spend the most, and take a gamble on us, and it’s backfired, it’s shot them in the face, right? It has not worked out at all.”
“Almost all the issues are not Reebok’s issues. The money was negotiated by the UFC. Reebok’s not going to go ‘We’re going to give you triple what we talked about.’ It doesn’t work like that. It’s still a business. I think things were directed the wrong way. I’m trying to get everyone on board and understand the situation a little better, and everyone I talked to, I think they understand it better after I asked a lot of people straight up, how are you doing for sponsors before and after. And I think 90 percent of people are saying they are doing the same or better now than they were before. And some of these are guys who had a lot of fights.”
“Some of the newer guys, like Kajan Johnson, so he’ll probably be fighting on Fight Pass when he comes in. Any time you’re on Fight Pass, that means nothing in sponsors. No one’s watching. So like, these guys that are just coming in, that are complaining they’re not making money, they’re probably on Fight Pass and they probably wouldn’t be making money anyway. I think that everyone is hearing about the golden days of sponsors where guys were guys were getting $150,000 to wear a walkout T-shirt and they’re thinking ‘Oh like that would be me,’ and that’s just not the case.”
The tiered payouts are based solely on tenure, so Alexander Gustafsson, a huge name, is making just $10,000 from Reebok, which strikes many as an absurdity. Lauzon, after 24 fights across a decade, is making $20,000