In a recent interview, longtime UFC crowd favorite Joe Lauzon discussed the Reebok deal and why fighters need to be more positive about it.
The Reebok sponsor partnership with the UFC has been the crux of discontent for many of the promotion’s fighters since it was first announced, especially in light of the fact there was no collective bargaining voice for them when the contract was being inked. In the two years since the deal became a reality, Reebok has faced fighter and fan backlash about everything from the tiered payout system to the seemingly continuous flow of design snafus.
Not all the athletes were disappointed with the deal, though. New fighters just getting their first taste of fighting under the umbrella of the largest MMA brand on the planet found a dependable source of sponsor dollars that they could count on. An even smaller handful of veterans with established name value have also been enjoying those guaranteed checks.
Longtime crowd favorite and 14-year career veteran Joe Lauzon is one such UFC athlete that has found the deal to be more than just acceptable, especially since his longtime tenure in the promotion places him at the top of the tiered system used to determine a fighter’s sponsor payout. In a recent interview with MMAFighting.com, Lauzon addressed questions about the contentious deal.
“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.’ 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.”
Lauzon, who has the distinct advantage of being within reasonable driving distance of Reebok headquarters, based just south of Boston, offered some advice to fighters, though.
“For me, I think about my show and win money. Everything is coming from the UFC at this point, right? My contract I’m at 62 and 62. And I get 20 in sponsors. So I don’t think my show money is 62 and 62, my show money is now 82. So it doesn’t matter what’s coming from show, what’s coming from Reebok. It’s what I’m depositing in my bank account. I’m sure Gustafsson, who is a huge name, he’s getting a lot more money on the contract end.
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 stop, you guys ruined it, you guys screwed yourself. So, my thing is, if you’re more positive about stuff, be 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.”