Ever since the UFC signed a deal with Reebok and debuted their high quality (yet, pretty standard) fighter wear, the response from actual fighters has been quite the opposite of what UFC executives expected.
Add former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum to the list of those who unhappy with the sponsor. He has received so much flak from tthe company for his protest that he was even removed from his commentary duties on the UFC’s Spanish speaking broadcast.
He probably didn’t expect this to happen, especially with the level of backlash the Reebok deal had already received from other fighters. Unfortunately, if you cross corporate entities, you usually get some form of punishment.
As for Werdum’s protest and his stature in the UFC, it appears the big question should be: Will this force the hand of even more UFC fighters to come out and feel like they should do the same thing? Werdum, with some colorful language thrown in for good measure, thinks so.
The issue is whether it’s worth it for some of these fighters to speak out, while hoping they keep their jobs in the biggest fighting organization in the world. Granted, this sport gives competitors the opportunity to fight in other promotions, but everybody knows the UFC is the premier organization for mixed martial artists. However, the recent purge suggests that more and more fighters are perfectly content with maintaining their pride and leaving the UFC, even if it means that they have to fight in a lower-tier fight promotion such as Bellator, the World Series of Fighting or the Resurrection Fighting Alliance.
The important thing for these fighters appears to be financial respect, as well as choice when it comes to how they present themselves to the fans. That’s essentially what recent Bellator signee Rory MacDonald had to say about his former employer, as he fearlessly did in public and on national TV. Even former reigning UFC featherweight kingpin José Aldo has made his views on the Reebok gear heard loud and clear.
Ultimately, the decision of where a fighter will end up comes down to where they want to be, as well as where they feel like they’re being treated well as employees. A lot of fighters even make great money fighting in the UFC, but take issue with how their fate is chosen by executives.
UFC fighters appear to be getting more frustrated every day. More of them have taken issue with not having their own sponsors, which results in lower paychecks and less food they can put on the table for their families.
Will they soon gain the clout to speak out, or will it take more than just a few marquee fighters to get them to mobilize for their rights?