For the first time in five fights, UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones (pictured) didn’t have Nike’s globally-recognized Swoosh plastered across his gear when he stepped into the cage at UFC 172.
Contractually, Jones is reportedly a Nike-sponsored athlete for the next 18 months. However, EA Sports was the lone logo on Jones’ shorts and banner when he faced Glover Teixeira on Saturday.
Jones and his entire entourage (including NFL brothers Chandler and Arthur) did, however, wear Nike shirts that were missing the Swoosh on fight night.
Why was Nike absent from the octagon when arguably the UFC’s biggest star was performing? Is Nike no longer an approved UFC sponsor?
“I honestly don’t know the answer to that,” UFC president Dana White responded when asked of Nike’s whereabouts. “Did Jon have Nike on [against Teixeira]? Then I guess not. Then it must be a no.”
When probed if Nike simply refused to pay the UFC’s $100,000 sponsorship tax, White vaguely replied, “right.”
However, Nike is by far and away the world’s largest sports apparel company. Why wouldn’t the UFC, who has been desperately trying to break into the mainstream, not just allow Nike to slide on the tax just so the Swoosh can make a presence in one of their events?
Credibility-wise, that iconic logo goes a very long way.
“I would say no other sports league on earth would do that. And neither do we,” White deadpanned.
UFC 172 took place in Baltimore, the same city where Under Armour’s global headquarters is located. The UFC is reportedly in talks to sign an exclusive uniform deal with the fast-rising apparel company.
Was this the UFC’s way of showing their level of commitment to UA by taking a firm stance against Nike at the expense of Jones’ relationship with the Swoosh?
Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, former heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos and Jones are the only UFC fighters under contract with Nike. Silva and Jones have global deals with Nike, whereas dos Santos is strictly promoted in his homeland of Brazil.