Recently, at the first ever UFC Athlete Retreat, UFC lightweight Kajan Johnson stood up and challenged a Reebok rep during his presentation, voicing the general opinion of fighters in attendance that the Reebok deal was very negative for the fighters.
After Johnson’s outburst, the UFC brass spoke with him privately, before then opening up an open session with the fighters to discuss the deal, and what would make them more happy. While the UFC wasn’t happy with Johnson’s method of calling out the Reebok rep mid-presentation, the result was a positive discussion between the fighters and UFC brass.
One of the most active fighters in that discussion was UFC veteran Joe Lauzon, who is now speaking out on why fighters should now support Reebok. He spoke on The MMA Hour:
“We’ve basically become toxic at this point. 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.’ All these fighters complaining, it’s not going to look good coming down the line. When this deal is over, sponsors are going to be pretty much done as far as fighters go with apparel. They’re going to say ‘oops, you guys ruined it, you guys screwed yourself.’ So my thing is, if you’re more positive about stuff and wear Reebok, Reebok will make some money, and then hopefully Reebok will either renew, or someone else will come in over the top and come up with more money.”
Only time will tell if the discussion at the UFC Athlete Retreat leads to positive changes for fighters.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/14/2017.