Don't like uniforms? Call 1-800-Bellator (and leave off the last R for Reebok).
Bellator MMA President Scott Coker, something of a combat sports darling after ruling the roost of the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion, has been fielding calls from fighters and managers looking for greener grass on the other side, thanks to the recent Reebok invasion.
The sneaker and apparel giant has partnered up with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for a July 2015 takeover. Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters operating under the ZUFFA banner will be forced to wear Reebok uniforms and in turn, will be paid a flat fee for participation.
Coker explains the ripple effect to MMA Fighting:
"I will tell you this, the phone's been ringing. I just tell people, 'Listen. We're not going to engage in any kind of dialog with you on any level unless you're a free agent. When you're free, give me a call.' I feel with our fighters, this is an individual sport. The fighters in our league are going to have the ability to get their own sponsors as long as there's no conflict with our corporate sponsors that support Bellator. We don't have any sponsorship tax on our athletes. As long as they don't conflict with our main sponsors -- like Miller, like Dave & Buster's, Monster Energy Drink, there's a couple others -- then everything else is fine. If they can go negotiate a deal that pays them a million dollars a year, that's up to them. They're independent contractors. They have their own ability to go make those deals."
Scumbag sponsors need not apply.
In less than two months, UFC fighters will lose the ability to bring their own sponsors to the Octagon. For those combatants who are less popular or struggle to get exposure, it's a guaranteed paycheck. For others, it's a considerable pay cut, which may in turn be more "bad press" than it is good business.
Didn't seem to bother this guy.