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UFC Reebok sponsorship blasted by RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara

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As the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the world, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is consistently thrown under the spotlight.

What have they done right? What have they done wrong? These are the kinds of questions that surround the multi-billion dollar promotion no matter what it does.

One of UFC's most criticized decisions over the past few years has been its willingness to partner up with Reebok for an exclusive sponsorship. The deal essentially cost fighters a ton of money, seeing as they can no longer sport out-of-promotion sponsorship.

But that hasn't been the only drawback from the Reebok deal. In addition, uniforms have been incorrectly spelled countries have been misrepresented, and the incentive pyramid that pays out to the fighters has been deemed unfair.

Unfortunately for UFC, other organizations have begun to weigh in on the situation regarding mass sponsorship and lateral conformity.

"We feel like we need to respect each individual," said RIZIN CEO and PRIDE founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. "Each athlete's character and personality matter more."

The Japanese promoter may have a point. In a sport that favors individuality and self-marketing, it seems like UFC is contradicting its goal to build unique MMA superstars who possess international notoriety.

"The UFC doesn't respect the individual," added Sakakibara. "The fighters all look the same in their costumes now. In order to stand out, you need to become unique and get all tatted up like Conor McGregor or speak up, those are the things you can do to stand out."

While partnering with a company like Reebok is certainly a step in the right direction in further solidifying the company's position in mainstream sports, its may not have been the proper decision when considering the need for special characters, money-making superstars, and divisional variety.

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