Reebok's entry into Mixed Martial Arts has been rocky at best, and the company has received its fair share of criticism from fans, personalities, and even athletes in the sport.
There have been various complaints about it, but one of the main issues has been compensation now that other outside sponsors won't be allowed during UFC events. Fighters such as Brendan Schaub and Tim Kennedy have been vocal, saying that the measly pay fighters get from the UFC's Reebok deal doesn't make it feasible for them to compete under the new sponsorship structure.
Reebok exec Michael Lunardelli appeared at a recent episode of the MMA Hour to reveal Chris Weidman's new signature shoes. Apart from the unveiling of their new signing, Reebok's senior director of combat training also discussed the criticism the company has been getting from UFC fans.
"You can't make everybody happy," Lunardelli said. "Some people are going to criticize the deal. They may feel that they lost some sponsorships as part of this apparel deal. The way we look at it is, we're not deciding where the money goes."
"We're investing into all these different things that relate to MMA and the sport, so we've put a lot of money into the UFC deal, we've put a lot of money into fighters, we've put a lot of money into gyms and trainers and coaches, things like that. But then there comes a decision point, and the UFC decides how the fighters are paid. That's not something we get involved in at all."
"So I can understand that he's looking at us and blaming us because it's a Reebok apparel deal. It's a little misplaced from my standpoint. But at the same time, we have to do what we have to do, and that's focus on making great gear, supporting fighters, getting fighters to showcase as the face of our brand. If we do those things really well, then things will come around."
Apart from the sponsorship numbers, Reebok has also been under fire as of late, after they came out with an ill-conceived Ireland shirt.