Anderson Silva this week has come out as the most prominent fighter to express his discontent with the UFC’s new uniform deal with Reebok.
In an interview with Brazilian outlet Terra, he event went so far as to say, “I’m not going to use it.”
Silva has long represented Nike in and out of the Octagon, and even though his deal with the company has come to an end due largely to Nike ending its MMA-related sponsorships in general, the former UFC middleweight champion doesn’t want to make the switch to Reebok.
“I don’t like that idea,” Silva said of the UFC requiring all of its fighters to don Reebok gear for official fight week events, including the fight itself, come July.
“When you use a tag, it must pass true, there must be a connection. I don’t have any identification with Reebok. Always used Nike even before having contract. It’s not because our bond that I’ll stop using. It is a truth, a brand that can relate. No use putting a brand that does not have a relationship.”
The UFC has represented the deal as one of the largest it has ever done, and UFC president Dana White has said all of the money will be distributed to the fighters. Most fighters, despite not knowing exactly what their fair share of the pie will be, have publicly approved of the deal.
Most notably, UFC champions Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones are on board. Of course, they each have individual deals with Reebok in addition to the UFC’s uniform deal.
Silva, however, says he doesn’t plan on wearing Reebok gear.
“I’m not going to use it because it won’t be true, I can’t go to my fans something that’s not true,” he told Terra. “I always make my uniforms and maybe keep using them. I haven’t renewed my contract with Nike, but don’t use the tag for being stronger, but because (I’ve) always used. In fact, not only me, but my entire family, we only use Nike and Adidas.”
Of course, Silva’s public stance on not wanting to wear Reebok could be a negotiating tactic.
During a press conference in December, Silva had said that, while he still loved Nike, he was in negotiations with Reebok.
“We’re in negotiations with (Reebok),” Silva said at the press conference. “If it’s not something good for us, I won’t sign with them. We have to be happy with the deal, and it has to be financially good for me as well.
“I feel true to myself when I’m with Nike, so I can’t wear a brand that doesn’t make me feel true to myself. If I feel good with what Reebok offers me, I would definitely use it every day, or I’ll just use it in the Octagon and that’s it.”
At that time, he was even complimentary of the UFC and Reebok deal.
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“I believe it’s going to be good for the sport. My managers will have a meeting with Reebok, and we’ll know more about it.”
Silva may truly want to wear Nike, but perhaps the meetings with Reebok haven’t gone quite as planned, and the returning champion is turning up the heat to get the best deal possible.
Only time will tell, but the uniform deal is expected to take effect on July 6, just in time for the UFC’s annual International Fight Week in Las Vegas.
(Editor’s note: Silva’s comments were translated from Portuguese to English via Bing.)