When Vitor was in Reebok land, let my people go.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Vitor Belfort will return to the Octagon this Saturday night (May 14, 2016) inside Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, for a 185-pound showdown against grappling sensation Ronaldo Souza.
And like everyone else in UFC, he'll do it under the Reebok sponsorship, which he tells SporTV (via Bloody Elbow) is akin to living in slavery.
"MMA is a lot closer to entertainment than sport these days. I'm not satisfied with the way the company is handling sponsorship. We are pretty much living in slavery. We can't use our own sponsors, they are banned inside the Octagon. We have no properties. My happiness comes from within. Breaking records is what I do best. I hope I can leave a legacy which fighters can use to raise awareness about a minimum wage pay. It's a contact sport. I don't think it's fair for someone to earn 500 dollars to be elbowed in the face. There has to be a retirement plan, which does not exist now. That's something for the next generation. They need to save their money and invest. They need to know the athlete life will end. All my next fights could be my last. So you should make your dream as if it was your last, too. I'm very happy with my career and everything I conquered. I do this because I love it, today. I'm still a voice to be heard. I can still help the sport."
Belfort insists the Reebok deal cost him "millions."
The world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion unified fight week sponsorships under the sports and apparel giant in an effort to bring order and structure to the way athletes earn income outside of competition. That said, not everyone is ready to celebrate the recent changes.
Who's to blame? Depends on who you ask.