The UFC’s blockbuster deal with sports apparel giant Reebok is finally set to kick in in just a few weeks. By now we have heard it all, some fighters will make more money, some will make less, some are happy with the deal, some couldn’t be more angry with it.
Long-time middleweight star Michael “The Count” Bisping recently spoke with MMAJunkie on the topic, giving his thoughts on the deal. Despite never being a champion, and always falling when he reaches the tip of the mountain, Bisping has always been a star for the UFC, and probably makes a good amount of dough in sponsorship money. Although admitting that he will lose some of this money, the polarizing Brit says that the UFC has always treated him fairly and that this deal will make the sport more professional:
“Listen, we all want more money,” Bisping said. “Of course we do. A lot of fighters are going to call me a company man and this and that. But the UFC has always been very fair with me. They’ve been very fair. (UFC President Dana White) and (UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta) have always treated me with great respect and I can’t thank them enough. Of course with this Reebok deal – I can’t lie – I’m going to lose money. But it will also be a much more professionally run thing.”
Bisping also noted that this deal lets him not have to deal with sponsorship companies who may not always pay him on time, a situation he described here:
“Of course my figure that I earn is cut down a little bit. But, at the same time, I don’t have to deal with these companies that don’t pay. There’s one company in particular that owes me $50,000. I’m not going to say because I’m trying to get paid by them. I’m not going to throw them under the bus fully just yet. I’m about to. If a check doesn’t come through. You know who you are. I think, if you use your brain, people could figure that one out if you look at my t-shirts I’ve worn in my previous fights.”
At the end of the day, one reason the UFC pulled the trigger on this deal seems to be the idea that it will bring mixed martial arts (MMA) closer and closer to the mainstream, and Bisping agrees. “The Count” says that the professionalism of the sport will greatly increase with this deal:
“The level of professionalism in the sport is going to go to another level,” he said. “So, yeah, there is some negatives, but I’m sure that’ll level itself out in the future.”
With the deal set to go in to effect shortly, will the backlash increase, or will more fighters begin to see it as Bisping does?