The UFC’s new clothing sponsor Reebok have been taking so much flack from angry MMA fans about the UFC firing veteran cut-man Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran that they’ve actually opted to issue a statement distancing themselves from the situation.
“UFC fans: We have no input on decisions of UFC employment or fighter compensation,” Reebok wrote on their twitter page. “Our focus is providing the best gear for fighters & fans.”
‘Stitch’ was fired by the UFC earlier this week after comments he made to the Bloody Elbow site on Monday, revealing that the promotion’s cut-men had been left out of pocket after being forced to give up their own sponsorship deals due to the promotion’s new clothing deal with Reebok, yet they hadn’t been brought in on the new deal either.
There has been a united backlash from MMA fighters, fans and journalists to the UFC’s decision to axe Duran, the world’s most famous cut-man who’d been part of the UFC’s traveling circus for 14 years as an independant contractor.
Whether Reebok directly had anything to do with ‘Stitch’s’ firing on not, they are still taking heat as a result of it and so far it’s been one PR disaster after another for them since signing up to a six year deal with the UFC worth $70 million.
They’ve experienced fighters and fans wrath previously over the level of compensation being dished out to UFC competitors for wearing their products, with many stating that they are now earning significantly less than they were previously when they were allowed to seek out their own sponsors.
More recently the unveiling of Reebok’s kit designs were met with a less than enthusiastic response from many quarters, including complaints regarding the price and generic nature of the designs.
Reebok had previously targeted their business around the Crossfit market which must seemed like a cool summer’s breeze in comparison to their new leap into fiery cauldron that is the MMA market, and the fact that they felt the need to respond publicly to the ‘Stitch’ situation suggests that they are already feeling the heat.