I'd reckon a number of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters are hesitant to speak up and critique the new sponsorship deal between Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Reebok, in fear of retaliatory cuts to keep the silent majority just that -- silent.
Reigning UFC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, is clearly not one of those fighters.
In fact, "Junior" is no stranger to ruffling the promotion's feathers (example), and failed to hold his tongue during a recent conversation with Combate (via Bloody Elbow), joining this Brazilian in a call to action to help protect the next generation of fighters.
"First of all, it's shit. 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 we had a union for fighters, and we were all together, like in the NBA, this would've been different, 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."
Those fighters who do speak up are either promised a quick fix, or publicly shamed. As far as forming a fighters' union, well, here's UFC President Dana White to explain why that won't work (here). Fortunately for Aldo, he's the champion (unless Conor McGregor upends him at UFC 189) and receives the most money from the partnership.
See the payout tiers here.
At the end of the day, Reebok is getting what it wanted from its uniform deal with UFC -- more press. Though I'm not sure this is what it had in mind.