Tensions were high at the UFC athletes retreat…
It’s not as though the UFC could have expected their recent athlete’s retreat to go without incident. Complaints of fighter mistreatment by the UFC at are at an all-time high less than one year removed from the company being sold for $4 billion.
In general, when companies that are purchased for $2 million and sold for billions, the employees start to feel as though they might not be receiving adequate compensation.
Similar sentiment was raised at the UFC’s athlete retreat, and resulted in a fighter being barred from the premises.
It Started With The Reebok Deal
In hindsight, the Reebok deal was all about the future sale of the company. Zuffa needed the projected future value of the company to be as high as possible. Uniform sponsors bring in a lot of money in team sports, and represented an untapped revenue stream for UFC.
The problem was that the fighters themselves had been earning that revenue through sponsors. In order to tap that revenue stream for themselves, UFC had to un-tap it for the fighters. Naturally, the fighters didn’t respond positively to having their earnings reduced.
After the Reebok deal, the UFC announced a compensation tier for fighters. Now, instead of seeking out their own sponsors, fighters receive anywhere between $2,500 to $40,000 of “sponsorship” money. The money doesn’t come from Reebok however, it is paid to the fighters by the UFC, presumably out of the money they receive from Reebok.
UFC Athlete Retreat
While the purpose of the retreat may have been to improve management’s relationship with fighters, it seemed to do anything but.
Al Iaquinta, who shockingly was invited to participate, left the retreat early. Iaquinta has been quite vocal lately about how poorly he feels UFC treats their fighters. He didn’t seem to enjoy Snoop Dogg’s performance at the retreat either.
“I don’t give a f*ck about Snoop Dogg. Pay me. I’m hurt, I’m tired. F*ck you. F*ck you, how about that?”
VIDEO: Fighter Speaks Out Against Reebok Deal at UFC Retreat
UFC fighter, Kajan Johnson spoke up during a session at the retreat regarding the Reebok deal.
Interestingly, Johnson only competed in the UFC once before the Reebok deal was made. He is 2-1 in the UFC, but hasn’t fought since September of 2015.
The disgruntled UFC fighter would later explain what led up to his actions at the retreat:
“The Reebok guy was just like telling us about how good the deal was for him, how good the deal was for UFC, and I’m sitting there like yeah, well, it wasn’t very good for me,” Johnson said. “I’m sure a lot of the fighters were thinking the same thing. And then this Anheuser Busch dude, man. I don’t know what’s wrong with this guy, but he was [allegedly] drunk at like 10:30 in the morning, he comes on stage with a beer.”
Johnson got his start in the company by participating on the Ultimate Fighter season that pitted Australia vs. Canada. He won his first fight in the tournament before losing in the semi-finals.
Further Incidents at UFC Retreat
I dont know who thought it was a good idea to get the whole roster of fighters together and then give them free alcohol. #athleteretreat
— Kajan Johnson (@IamRagin) May 20, 2017
The new UFC owners clearly have never watched the Ultimate Fighter before (not as if many do anymore), otherwise they would have been aware of what could happen.
In addition to Kajan Johnson being kicked out for voicing his disapproval of the Reebok deal, a confrontation between Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Angela Magana is said to have gotten physical.