One of the most notable stories to come out of UFC 259 was Dominick Cruz’s sudden thrusting of fringe MMA figure Hans Molenkamp into the public discourse. Cruz used his post-fight interview, following a victory over Casey Kenney, to issue a call-out to the Monster Energy rep over his apparent mistreatment of fighters under contract with the soda brand.
Cruz – backed up by fellow former UFC champion Michael Bisping, and a former photographer for Monster Energy who claims to have worked alongside Molenkamp for several years – claimed that Molenkamp has used his position, as the gateway between athletes and Monster HQ, to force fighters to pose for photos, act in videos, and comment on his personal social media pages—under the threat of having their contracts with the brand cancelled.
Molenkamp has not commented publicly on the allegations, and a phone number connected to him has reportedly been disconnected. However, Monster Energy has issued a statement claiming that they are investigating the allegations. As that process plays out, Molenkamp has picked up at least one vocal defender: former UFC champion, Bellator & PRIDE star Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
Jackson, who has been a longtime sponsored athlete for Monster, spoke of his own experiences with Molenkamp, as well as the allegations against him. Most notably claiming that the brand rep’s position with the company doesn’t even allow the kind of power others have claimed he’s abusing.
“Hans doesn’t even have the power to say, ‘You don’t get a contract if you don’t post this or do that,’” Jackson told MMA Junkie in a recent interview. “I think he can vouch for you, but if you already got a Monster deal, he can’t just cancel your contract because you don’t do something for him. It doesn’t work that way. I just feel bad. It seems like too many people are chiming in, and I’m like, ‘How come nobody is telling the truth about Hans, that he isn’t like that?’”
Jackson did suggest that Molenkamp has overstated or misstated his relationship with celebrities in the combat sports sphere, such as Conor McGregor and Dana White in the past. And that he does often ask athletes to work with him to create skits for social media. But, in his own experience, that’s all been entirely fun and voluntary and nothing out of the norm.
“I hang out with Hans when we do Monster shoots and things like,” Jackson said of his relationship with Molenkamp. “Hans will ask you, ‘Let’s do this sh-t for the Internet, for social media,’ but everybody does that now. If you’re a fighter or anything, and you’re hanging out with your peers or your people, people are going to ask you to do some sh-t.
“No way will Hans ever ask people, ‘Do this post for me or you’re not going to get a sponsorship.’ That sh-t is f-cking stupid.”
As to whether or not Jackson was making these comments at Molenkamp’s urging (as former Monster Energy photographer Courtney Henderson claimed would happen in response to his own, and Cruz’s, allegations), Jackson reportedly brushed the idea aside, saying he’s even had his own clashes with Molenkamp over the years. “Sometimes Hans and I don’t see eye-to-eye, and I can understand why people would get mad at him,” the former Bellator light heavyweight tournament winner admitted. But Jackson reiterated that it’s never been a “do this post or you ain’t going to get no sponsorship,” situation.
Combat Sports Academy owner Kirian Fitzgibbons seems to be firmly in sync with Jackson on his opinion of Molenkamp. In a recent post on Instagram, Fitzgibbons spoke about his gym’s own longtime relationship with Monster Energy, calling Molenkamp “one of my favorite people in the industry.”
Fitzgibbons also claimed he had never been “held captive” by his sponsorship deal with the beverage manufacturer, and took things a step further, with a shot back at Cruz.
“What I can say knowing how things work with Monster ... Dom has about a 10 year relationship with Monster... off those 10 years at least 6 of them he spent inactive on the sidelines due to injuries or the pandemic and he hasn’t been champion in over 4 years ... beyond his personal relationship with Hans I don’t believe he gets the Monster Deal at all AND he certainly does not keep it having spent 60% of his time not fighting. I mean am I the only person who understands how these things work???
“They certainly don’t sponsor him as a hand model? Without question Hans is the ONLY reason he had it as long as he has. So let keep things in perspective shall we. The more you know ”
With what, by all accounts, seems to be a lot of money on the table – and some very public airing of grievances – it looks like this could become a very ugly spat in the MMA industry. Whether Monster Energy can calm things through their own investigation remains to be seen. In the meantime, it appears more voices are going to add their side to the narrative of Molenkamp’s involvement in MMA.