UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr. spoke with Globo TV’s Combate recently and discussed, among other things, the exclusive sponsorship deal that UFC has entered into with Reebok that goes into full effect in July. The interview has been helpfully translated by Bloody Elbow:
“First of all. It’s sh*t. Everybody has been talking about it. We, athletes, are losing a lot. They said we would be like NBA or NFL athlete, but that doesn’t apply, because we are not paid monthly like they are. It doesn’t matter how much we will be paid, all athletes who had sponsors are losing money. That’s a huge setback for us. We live for each fight, we have to keep fighting and nobody fights more than three times a year. Not a champion, anyway. Even the value they measured doesn’t match what our sponsors were paying us. That is great for the UFC, but not for the fighters. I see a lot of athletes losing too much. If you are a beginner there is not that big of a hurry to get paid, but it still isn’t that much. Not enough to get them by at least. I don’t like it. Ever since they started talking about this, I asked to see what they were offering us and I never thought it was interesting, especially for the champions.”
It didn’t stop there. Aldo also has thoughts on how fighters should solve this problem:
“If we had a union for fighters, and we were all together, like in the NBA, this would’ve been different. But fighters are not united. Today I have a price the event is willing to pay to have me, but there are other fighters out there willing to fight for spare change if I don’t want to, and that is not even their fault. The UFC brought the sport to where it is today, great, that’s their merit. But if athletes were more united and had a union to protect them, I don’t think this would happen.”
A fighters’ union could also give some weight to the ongoing anti-trust lawsuit that’s been filed against the UFC and its parent company, Zuffa.
Ultimately, Aldo isn’t speaking out for his own benefit, he says he’s trying to help the fighters just starting out:
“When I speak about this, I don’t speak for myself. If I say this might be good for Aldo, yeah, sure it can, I would make good money, I could say that. But when I look at other athletes, like I do at my gym, they need me and Andre Pederneiras to start helping them, because that’s a bad thing that they are doing to them. It gets really bad for up and comers or guys who are trying to reach the top. I’m not talking about me, I’m all right, I’m the champion and I have a high price. Aldo hasn’t become the champion now, he has been the champion for years. But for the beginners, it’s really bad.”
I think it’s really great that Aldo is trying to help out the younger fighters. Hopefully, a fighters union can materialize to give them more bargaining power against promoters.