Soccer icon Ronaldo Nazario de Lima and his 9ine Sports & Entertainment company have announced that they will no longer be working with the UFC due to “arbitrarily” changing its sponsorship funding rules and fighter remuneration. The marketing company that the retired soccer star is President of, spent the last few years building up stars in the UFC such as Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, and Vitor Belfort.
MMA Fighting reported the official release from 9ine Sports & Entertainment:
We announce that, from this date, 9ine Sports & Entertainment withdraws from any negotiations involving the UFC, its events or fighters. The agency does not believe in the new model adopted by the company in attracting sponsorship and believes that this directly hurts all athletes from the organization, and also the companies that supported and backed the UFC for many years.
The history between 9ine and UFC is old. We were the first sports and entertainment marketing agency to dive right into projects proposed by the company. We were also pioneers while working the image of fighters like Anderson Silva, Junior dos Santos and most recently Vitor Belfort. All champions and references in their categories.
But not only from business becomes a big company. We have principles based on the vision of a former athlete and sports fan. Our president, Ronaldo Nazario, does not tolerate seeing an organization change its sponsorship funding rules and fighter remuneration — arbitrarily — without taking a stand.
Therefore, 9ine leaves the ‘UFC business’ while taking a stand as to what we believe is unfair to athletes, true warriors who make a living with MMA. To them, we wish every success and wisdom to deal with the difficulties that lie ahead.
What do you think about the deal in place with the UFC and Reebok? Is it better for the sport in the long run, or is it only hurting the sport and the fighters? Share your opinion in the comment section!