“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… 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.”
-Vitor Belfort talks to SporTV in Brazil about the UFC’s Reebok deal and planning for the future (translated by Lucas Rezende at BloodyElbow.com).
Penick’s Analysis: Comparing the Reebok deal to slavery is ridiculous, but it’s not unlike Belfort to be outlandish about something. It isn’t right that the fighters had no say in the deal and had their potential sponsorship earnings decimated, but they’re not slaves to the UFC. Most are still making a living; things need to improve on that end, of course, and they will continue to over time as fighters make a push for it and fight for more, but they also need to have a reasonable starting point, and spouting off that he’s a slave to the organization is not a reasonable spot for Belfort.