Jose Aldo: Reebok Deal Is ‘S**t,’ MMA Needs Fighters Union

Written by Tom Ngo
June 1st, 2015

UFC Jose Aldo

When the UFC finally unveiled the new Reebok sponsorship pay structure last month, many fighters were livid because part of their income was going to be significantly diminished. However, none of the complainers were true superstars of the sport so their gripes didn’t carry much weight.

Well, the first current UFC champion is now lashing out about the endorsement deal. Reigning featherweight king Jose Aldo (pictured) is none too pleased about how the UFC has restricted a fighter’s ability to make income via sponsors. Oh, and get this, Aldo isn’t even complaining for himself, he’s selflessly speaking out on behalf of up-and-coming fighters who don’t have the power to do it for themselves.

“First of all. It’s s**t,” said Aldo Combate (translated by BloodyElbow.com). “Everybody has been talking about it. We, athletes, are losing a lot. They said we would be like NBA or NFL athlete, but that doesn’t apply, because we are not paid monthly like they are. It doesn’t matter how much we will be paid, all athletes who had sponsors are losing money. That’s a huge setback for us. We live for each fight, we have to keep fighting and nobody fights more than three times a year. Not a champion, anyway. Even the value they measured doesn’t match what our sponsors were paying us. That is great for the UFC, but not for the fighters. I see a lot of athletes losing too much. If you are a beginner there is not that big of a hurry to get paid, but it still isn’t that much. Not enough to get them by at least. I don’t like it. Ever since they started talking about this, I asked to see what they were offering us and I never thought it was interesting, especially for the champions.”

The UFC has had a stranglehold on MMA for over a decade, so much so that some are accusing the company of being a monopoly. They hold all the cards and are able to call all the shots when it comes to their product. Fighters have little to no say, and if they did, their voices would rarely be heard.

Chatter of arranging an MMA fighters union has been debated for years, but all fighters have different personal agendas and it’s been tough to get everyone on the same page. However, Aldo believes this Reebok deal might be what it takes to get his peers to band together.

“If we had a union for fighters, and we were all together, like in the NBA, this would’ve been different,” Aldo stated. “But fighters are not united. Today I have a price the event is willing to pay to have me, but there are other fighters out there willing to fight for spare change if I don’t want to, and that is not even their fault. The UFC brought the sport to where it is today, great, that’s their merit. But if athletes were more united and had a union to protect them, I don’t think this would happen.

“When I speak about this, I don’t speak for myself. If I say this might be good for Aldo, yeah, sure it can, I would make good money, I could say that. But when I look at other athletes, like I do at my gym, they need me and Andre Pederneiras to start helping them, because that’s a bad thing that they are doing to them. It gets really bad for up and comers or guys who are trying to reach the top. I’m not talking about me, I’m all right, I’m the champion and I have a high price. Aldo hasn’t become the champion now, he has been the champion for years. But for the beginners, it’s really bad.”

The UFC kicks off their six-year, reported $70 million endorsement deal with Reebok on July 6. The first official Reebok-only UFC event goes down five days later, and guess who’s headlining UFC 189?

There’s nothing quite like dealing with a disgruntled employee…

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