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Chael Sonnen on UFC-Reebok deal: The money isn't going 'under Dana White's mattress'

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

There has been endless reactions from mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters and celebrities since Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brass unveiled its compensation tiers last week for the company's Reebok uniform sponsorship deal (see them here), and most of them have been negative.

We have heard outspoken veterans like Tim Kennedy, Matt Mitrione, and Brendan Schaub lambast the new deal, and we most recently heard 2016 Olympic hopeful Ed Ruth sign with Bellator MMA because the exclusivity of the Reebok deal inside the Octagon.

Of all the negative reactions, the most damning may have been Joe Rogan's thoughts on the deal, noting he doesn't like to see fighters suffer financially.

One voice of the MMA community that has been shockingly quiet about the new deal is former UFC star Chael Sonnen.

Until now.

In an interview on the Three Amigos Podcast, the retired fighter gave his intriguing opinion on the Reebok deal.

Transcription via

The Reebok deal is a bit of a socialistic approach to sponsorship. I left the sport right before the Reebok deal came into the works, so I don't have any inside knowledge. I have sat back and read about it, though, and I did see the numbers.

That money will still be distributed, it doesn't go under Dana White's mattress, he's not going to sleep on it like so many people like to think. He's reworking it and putting it back into the system. He's giving the money back to the athletes. They have to follow some kind of formula, so they came up with one, but you're never going to make everyone happy.

The truth is, as talent, we're not entitled to that money. I work with ESPN right now, and I couldn't walk out there with a sponsor's watch or suit on and collect that money behind ESPN's back. I work for them. The money has to go to them. This situation is a major case of no good deed goes unpunished. We had something for years that we never should have had.

Well, that is not something you likely expected to hear.

Is Sonnen the voice of reason in a sea of distraught and disgruntled MMA fighters? Or as independent contractors, should UFC fighters have the right to seek their own sponsorships?

Either way, "The American Gangster" said it best: You can't make everyone happy.

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