Reebok and the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced a deal toward the end of 2014. Fighters were apprehensive to rejoice and celebrate the deal as details surrounding fighter pay have yet to be revealed; All they knew was they were going to be forbidden from wearing sponsors other than Reebok to the octagon.
While the underwhelming financial information surrounding the dispersement of Reebok’s money to the fighters were revealed, stars such as Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones signed exclusive deals with the company.
At the point of her signing in 2013, Paige VanZant was simply an attractive strawweight prospect with a 3-1 record outside of the UFC. Once she made her debut inside the octagon at UFC Fight Night 57 in 2014, she became an overnight celebrity and has only been moving up since.
After just one fight in the UFC, VanZant signed a deal with Reebok and was fast becoming one of the most popular female fighters on the roster. Fighters were quick to critique VanZant and questioned whether she deserved the deal; The biggest sponsorship of her fighting career was causing severe backlash within her division.
“You know, I got a little bit of turmoil from the other girls in my weight division and other athletes that didn’t get picked up,” VanZant told BJPENN.COM. “I always think I have to prove myself. I don’t necessarily look like a fighter.”
VanZant walked out to the octagon wearing Reebok gear for the first time in April at “UFC on FOX 15” where she dominated veteran Felice Herrig. VanZant not only proved she was deserving of the sponsorship, but that she deserved to be ranked in the top ten along with the likes of Joanne Calderwood and Tecia Torres.
“I’m thankful for the Reebok deal. I’m thankful to be a Reebok athlete— that’s huge for me. Getting picked up by Reebok after my first UFC fight was unheard of.”
Chad Mendes Strips, Gets VanZant Flustered During Important Interview — WATCH!