Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from repercussions. Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (pictured) just learned that the hard way.
Three days after his not-so-subtle Reebok protest on Instagram, Werdum says the UFC has stripped him of his analyst and commentator duties on the UFC’s Spanish-speaking broadcasts.
“Clarifying the controversy @reebok @ufc I just want to make everything clear about my post of Nike and Reebok,” Werdum wrote in Friday’s Instagram video. “I did this to protest about the sponsorship, before Rebook got into UFC, all the fighters use to do a lot of money with other sponsors, including me, and now they paying me only $5,000 per fight. I didn’t get penalized because I have to contract with them, but they cut me out of the tv broadcast #UFCnetwork”
Esclarecendo a polêmica sobre @reebok @ufc @ufc_brasil @sherdogdotcom / // Clarifying the controversy @reebok @ufc I just want to make everything clear about my post of Nike and Reebok. I did this to protest about the sponsorship, before Rebook got into UFC, all the fighters use to do a lot of money with other sponsors, including me, and now they paying me only $5,000 per fight. I didn't get penalized because I have to contract with them, but they cut me out of the tv broadcast #UFCnetwork
Werdum speaks exclusively in his native Portuguese during the entire video, but specifies that he was removed from the television duties he has enjoyed as an on-air personality for the past few years on various UFC shows in Latin America because of his anti-Reebok protest.
On Wednesday, Werdum posted the above pic on his Instagram account. The Brazilian (or someone Werdum knows who can work Photoshop) slapped a Nike Swoosh over the Reebok logo on his UFC fight kit shirt.
“I’m not generic, I’m Nike since childhood! #suck #myballs #reebok,” Werdum wrote in the pictures caption.
Werdum was confident that he wouldn’t get in trouble because he has not signed an exclusive contract with Reebok, he – along with everyone else on the UFC’s roster – merely has to wear Reebok during fight week and inside the cage. However, in between fights Werdum and all other UFC athletes who haven’t signed an individual endorsement deal with Reebok can promote whatever brands they want.
Well, the UFC and Reebok didn’t fine or suspend Werdum for his love of Nike (or hate of his Reebok check), but he most certainly got punished.
The UFC has not commented on Werdum’s protest or his punishment.
The UFC kicked off their exclusive, and highly controversial, apparel commitment with Reebok in July on 2015. The six-year, reported $70 million agreement has not been received well by most fighters who claim they have suffered significant financial losses from the deal.
Fighters are paid by Reebok on a tiered system based off UFC tenure: 1-5 UFC fights ($2,500/fight), 6-10 UFC fights ($5,000/fight), 11-15 UFC fights ($10,000/fight), 16-20 UFC fights ($15,000/fight) and more than 21 UFC fights ($20,000/fight). Title challengers make $30,000 and champions tally $40,000.
Werdum received just $5,000 from Reebok for his last UFC fight. He claims to have made between $100,000-$150,000 per fight prior to the UFC’s sponsorship deal with Reebok.
Werdum bounced back from losing his title to Stipe Miocic by beating Travis Browne last month at UFC 203. He grants Cain Velasquez a rematch December 30 at UFC 207.