Just days after his social media protest against Reebok, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum revealed in an Instagram video on Friday that he has been removed from his television duties as an analyst and commentator on the UFC's Spanish-speaking broadcasts.
"I just want to make everything clear about my post of Nike and Reebok. I did this to protest about the sponsorship," Werdum wrote on the post. "Before Rebook got into UFC, all the fighters use to do a lot of money with other sponsors, including me, and now they paying me only $5,000 per fight. I didn't get penalized because I have to contract with them, but they cut me out of the TV broadcast #UFCnetwork."
Esclarecendo a polêmica sobre @reebok @ufc @ufc_brasil @sherdogdotcom / // Clarifying the controversy @reebok @ufc I just want to make everything clear about my post of Nike and Reebok. I did this to protest about the sponsorship, before Rebook got into UFC, all the fighters use to do a lot of money with other sponsors, including me, and now they paying me only $5,000 per fight. I didn't get penalized because I have to contract with them, but they cut me out of the tv broadcast #UFCnetwork
Over the course of the video, in which Werdum speaks exclusively in Portuguese, the 39-year-old former UFC champion explained that he was not fined by the UFC or punished by Reebok, but instead was removed from his UFC television obligations as punishment for his protest. Werdum has worked for several years as an on-air personality on various shows for the UFC in Latin America.
Werdum explained that he started his protest out of frustration with the UFC-Reebok partnership. He said that he used to earn anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 in sponsorships per fight prior to the Reebok deal, and now that number is limited to just $5,000 due to the UFC-Reebok wage scale, which bases fighter earnings on length of tenure with the promotion. Werdum said that after fighting for over 15 years, he doesn't believe it is fair for an athlete of his level to be earning such a low income from sponsorships.
On Tuesday, Werdum posted a photo on Instagram of him wearing a UFC fight kit emblazoned with a Nike logo, joined by the caption, "I'm not generic, I'm Nike since childhood! #suck #myballs #reebok." Werdum then explained on Facebook that his post was done in protest and he urged fighters to speak out against the situation.
"It was just a protest," Werdum said. "Something that before we could show any sponsor we wanted. We used to get real good money, it was a lot different from Reebok. Today, with Reebok there is a pay scale, if you have a certain number of fights you get $5,000, $8.000. Of course it's good money, but nothing like it was before, so of course it was a protest.
"I think fighters need to start speaking because no one is happy," Werdum continued. "It's something that is in our contract, we have to sign it and end of story. We don't have options. It was nice because it [the photo] was featured even in Globo.com. People talking, 'Werdum signed with Nike', no, but if Nike is interested, we're here."
In his initial Facebook video, Werdum also attempted to assure fans that he would not "get in trouble" because he was under no contractual obligation to Reebok.
"The people thinking I will get in trouble, nothing will happen," he said. "I even tell the fighters, if some company won't sponsor you, you have to cover up their names, gloves, shin guards, don't make free promotion. That's our job, our image, our fights. Just because someone sends you some gloves you don't need to keep making several posts with them. That's not how it works, you have to value your image."
The UFC has not responded to a request to comment at the time of this writing.
In addition to being a former UFC heavyweight champion, Werdum (21-6-1) also competed under the Strikeforce and Pride FC banners. In 2010, he stunned the MMA world by submitting legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko with a triangle choke in 69 seconds. Werdum is currently the No. 1 ranked UFC heavyweight and is expected to rematch Cain Velasquez on Dec. 30 at UFC 207.
MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz contributed to this post. This post has been corrected from an initial version which stated Werdum had been suspended from his TV duties for three years.