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Michael Bisping says UFC's new Reebok deal will eliminate 'scumbag sponsors'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LOS ANGELES -- Two of the more interested parties in Monday's breaking news on the UFC's Reebok deal were UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and longtime middleweight standout Michael Bisping.

The veteran duo, who were in town on a media tour promoting Saturday's UFC 186 card in Montreal, stand to benefit from the adjusted formula for dispersal of the fighters' share of income.

But Bisping sees another reason why he likes having Reebok as the UFC's exclusive apparel sponsor.

"I was happy when Dana [White] called me and told me about the Reebok deal, I'm like, great, I'm sick of dealing with all these scumbag sponsors," Bisping said.

The most controversial aspect of the Reebok deal when it was originally announced was the elimination of individual sponsors for fighters, which made up a significant portion of many fighters' income.

The most criticized aspect was the notion that fighters would be paid according the media-voted UFC rankings, a highly subjective method.

Bisping pointed out an obvious flaw in the system, singling out the UFC's new 115-pound women's strawweight division as an example.

"No disrespect to the females who are just off the show or whatever," Bisping said. "Who have one fight in the UFC, and they're ranked No. 3, over a guy who has been ranked in the UFC for awhile.  Let's say a guy like [Quinton] 'Rampage,' [Jackson] who was on [UFC 186], he's got a huge name, but you've got a 115 woman that's just come up, and she's going to get more from Reebok than a guy like 'Rampage'?"

Under the system announced Monday, fighters will be paid Reebok money based on their company tenure (which will also include WEC and Strikeforce fights), with compensation scales set for 1-5, 5-10, 11-15, 16-20 and 21+ fights, as well as extra money for championship fighters.

That benefits Bisping, whose fight against C.B. Dollaway on Saturday is his 22nd in Zuffa, and Johnson, whose title defense against Kyoji Horiguchi is his 15th, including WEC bouts.

But they say this isn't all about them, using popular lightweight veteran Joe Lauzon as an example.

"Look at a guy like Joe Lauzon," Johnson said. "He's been around forever, and he wasn't even ranked. That's the hardest thing, how did rankings benefit someone like him, who still is a draw and is an exciting fighter?"

Bisping, meanwhile, clarifies that he doesn't consider all sponsors scumbags. But he still thinks the new system will be better than the old one.

"Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of reputable companies out there," Bisping said. "So I don't want to slag everybody, there are some very, very good companies. But it's good because it's one less thing that a fighter has to worry about."

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