9ine Sports & Entertainment, owned by retired soccer star Ronaldo Nazario de Lima, spent the last few years building up an impressive portfolio of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters, including but not limited to Anderson Silva, Junior dos Santos, and Vitor Belfort.
Now, it's saying goodbye to all of them.
That's because Ronaldo and Co. refuse to do business with the world's preeminent mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, after it "arbitrarily" changed its sponsorship funding rules and fighter remuneration. In other words, UFC climbed into bed with Reebok, but fighters are the ones getting screwed.
MMA Fighting with the official release:
We announce that, from this date, 9ine Sports & Entertainment withdraws from any negotiations involving the UFC, its events or fighters. The agency does not believe in the new model adopted by the company in attracting sponsorship and believes that this directly hurts all athletes from the organization, and also the companies that supported and backed the UFC for many years.
The history between 9ine and UFC is old. We were the first sports and entertainment marketing agency to dive right into projects proposed by the company. We were also pioneers while working the image of fighters like Anderson Silva, Junior dos Santos and most recently Vitor Belfort. All champions and references in their categories.
But not only from business becomes a big company. We have principles based on the vision of a former athlete and sports fan. Our president, Ronaldo Nazario, does not tolerate seeing an organization change its sponsorship funding rules and fighter remuneration -- arbitrarily -- without taking a stand.
Therefore, 9ine leaves the ‘UFC business' while taking a stand as to what we believe is unfair to athletes, true warriors who make a living with MMA. To them, we wish every success and wisdom to deal with the difficulties that lie ahead.
I swear I've heard this somewhere before.
UFC signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with Reebok earlier this year with the intention of providing its athletes with guaranteed income for each fight (sample here). Unfortunately, that required any and all existing sponsors to be eliminated during fight week.
As a result, some (but not all) fighters have been critical of the Reebok deal, which just can't seem to get out of its own way.