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Fabricio Werdum responds to losing UFC broadcast gigs after Reebok protest

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Fabricio Werdum got more than he bargained for with his protest against Reebok.

Werdum, the former UFC heavyweight champion, revealed Friday in an Instagram post that he has been fired from his television duties as an analyst and commentator on the UFC's Spanish-speaking broadcasts. Werdum said the decision was meant to serve as a punishment for speaking out against the UFC's divisive partnership with Reebok as an exclusive apparel sponsor.

In speaking with MMA Fighting on Friday, Werdum confirmed that he has been cut from the various television obligations he has worked for the UFC in Latin America over the last several years.

"It's a done deal, they took me forever," Werdum told MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz. "As a commentator, I always helped promote the sport in Latin America. I never had a contract with them, so they can release me any time they want. That's what happened."

Werdum, 39, posted a photo to his Instagram on Tuesday of him wearing a UFC fight kit with a Nike logo on it. Alongside the photo, Werdum wrote in a combination of both Spanish and Portuguese, "I'm not generic, I'm Nike since childhood! #suck #myballs #reebok."

Werdum explained that the post was meant to be in protest of the low wages UFC fighters receive from the promotion's exclusive apparel partnership with Reebok. Prior to the Reebok deal, UFC fighters were allowed to seek out their own personal sponsorships, some of which could grow to be very lucrative. Werdum said that in his case, he used to earn $100,000 to $200,000 in sponsorships per fight before the deal, but now earns less than 10-percent of those figures.

In making his argument, Werdum urged fighters to speak out "because no one is happy" and also assured concerned fans that he would not be punished because he is under no contractual obligation to Reebok. That line of thinking was ultimately misguided though, as Werdum was left frustrated having lost his coveted broadcasting gigs for the UFC in Latin America, where he served as a talking head and commentator on several programs.

"I won't go (back) after this," Werdum said. "It's the second time it has happened. I didn't go to (film in) Colombia once before because my wife had dengue and then I was on vacation, but they didn't understand me and took me off of [the broadcast]. I asked Dana White and he put me back on. And now because of this post.

"I don't have anything with Reebok, only during the fight. They can do anything. Did a post? Lose your job as commentator. If I had lost it because I was doing a poor job and nobody likes me, fine, but I know it's not the case. I know I was doing a good job because I get messages from all Latin America saying that, and I have already received messages from people saying they will cancel the channel now."

At the time of this writing, the UFC had not responded to a request to comment on Werdum's claims.

Werdum (21-6-1) is currently the No. 1 ranked heavyweight in the UFC, according to the promotion's media-generated rankings. He is expected to meet fellow former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in a highly-anticipated rematch on Dec. 30 at UFC 207.

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