The UFC’s outfitting deal with sports apparel giant Reebok is frequently criticized by fans, fighters, and pundits alike. Not only does this deal deprive fighters of the chance to pursue more lucrative sponsorship deals for themselves, it also deprives them have the chance to dress up during their walkouts and set themselves apart from their peers. Veteran MMA referee John McCarthy is glad this isn’t the reality in Bellator, where he now serves as a cage-side commentator.
Speaking during Saturday’s Bellator Hawaii broadcast, as former UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida walked out for his Bellator debut, John McCarthy explained how pleased he was to see Machida walking out in his traditional karate gi rather than Reebok gear.
Bellator commentator John McCarthy just said this on the broadcast re: Machida: “I love the fact that he comes out wearing that karate gi instead of some stupid Reebok uniform.”
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 16, 2018
“I love the fact that he comes out wearing that karate gi instead of some stupid Reebok uniform,” John McCarthy explained.
Prior to the UFC’s deal with Reebok, Machida always walked out in a gi, but was no longer allowed to do so once the deal took affect. Similarly, this deal meant that Anderson Silva could no longer wear his trademark yellow shorts, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua could no longer wear his patented Bad Boy Gear… the list goes on. The absence of this Reebok deal has been one of the main reasons that so many former UFC fighters have made the move to Bellator over the last few years.
“I just think the UFC went about it the wrong way,” former UFC welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald said of the Reebok deal on the MMA Hour, shortly after moving to Bellator. “They didn’t really think of the fighters, I don’t think, even though I think they’re trying to make it out like they were. There was no discussion. It was just, okay, this is happening and deal with it, kind of thing. And that’s not very respectful. I don’t think that was a very good move.”
What do you think of this comment from John McCarthy? What are your thoughts on the UFC’s deal with Reebok?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/16/2018.