Up to this point, we think you'd be hard pressed to find fans of the UFC's Reebok uniform deal. The promotion's fighters hate it because it murdered their ability to make money through sponsors, the fans hate it because of the lazy homogenized overpriced fight kits. But one man who likes it Bellator president Scott Coker, because it gives his company a very attractive negotiating tool when trying to lure away stars from the UFC.
"I think [the Reebok deal] been very good for our business, honestly," Scott Coker told Luke Thomas at Tuesday's Bellator 180 press conference. "Fighters want the freedom to get their own sponsors. They just want the freedom, and they don't like ... this is the deal, I know fighters, big name fighters, that say 'Hey, I had million dollar sponsors. Now I have 40,000 every time I fight or 20,000 every time I fight.' All that sponsorship went away. And these are big names over there."
At this point Coker's answer started to almost morph into what we imagine is his sales pitch whenever he speaks to a fighter testing out their free agency.
"I think people want a certain amount of freedom, and that's what we give. We give them the freedom to get your own sponsorships. You won't be stopped from getting somebody that you feel fits you as a person, as a personality, and I think that's the way it should be."
With the exodus from the UFC to Bellator growing from a trickle to a steady stream, we're sure the Reebok deal (and the way the UFC forced it upon the fighters without much regard for their financial well-being) will continue to be cited as a reason for many stars walking away from the biggest MMA promotion in the world. Who knows what Bellator's roster will look like by the time the controversial uniform expires in four years.