Danny Castillo Expresses Concern Over Reebok Deal

With the advent of the recently announced sponsorship deal between the UFC and athletic apparel brand Reebok, it has become a time of financial uncertainty for many fighters.   Danny Castillo recently sat down for an interview on Frank Trigg’s video podcast  and expressed some of his concerns when it comes to the impending changing sponsorship structure in the UFC:
Trigg: Of course the Reebok deal has come in…. .It’s gonna start acting some time next year..I’m not sure about the exact date….but now you have one sponsor, Reebok, as opposed to a multitude of sponsors…what do you think it is gonna do for you, money-wise…is it gonna increase it? decrease? is it gonna stay the same?


Castillo: It’s tough to say….I don’t really know the fine points and the details of it but i know that it’s on a ranking system…and unfortunately I feel like  I’m gonna get screwed out of it..only because I’ve been in the sport for a long time…I’ve been grinding my ass off & training hard.. this is gonna be my 20th fight with zuffa, but I’m not in the top 15 , I’m not in the top 10.. so where does that put me? Does that put me in the same position where I’ll make the same money as the newcomer, because unfortunately that’s pretty much what it looks like..that’s not gonna be good for me….to get paid the same as some kid who’s making his debut….

While Trigg subsequently does some walk-back on the impact, Castillo’s response crystallizes a very real fear for the veteran Zuffa fighter as this new sponsorship scheme is implemented. Any sponsorship structure that ends up paying a veteran like Castillo the same sponsor money as Johnny Newcomer on the Fight Pass pre-lims would be a fundamental failure on the UFC’s part.  If the UFC has some plan to remedy a seemingly inequitable distribution of the Reebok deal proceeds, then they’ve done a poor job of communicating that to the fighters.  Castillo, and the fighters as a whole, are still totally in the dark as to how they are going to be financially impacted by the Reebok deal.  Even worse, there seems to be little means for them to provide feedback to Zuffa as to some of their possible concerns. High end fighters can bend the ear of Dana & Lorenzo to plead their case, but the concerns of the lunchpail vets like Castillo don’t have the same purchase and their interests fall on deaf ears. As is the case with much of Zuffa’s inner dealings, from their fighter conduct policy to their HGH testing policy, their actions and intentions, motivations and machinations are shrouded in secrecy…with little input from the fighters that are being impacted by those edicts. What you are left with are policies that are woefully inadequate.


The implementation of a veteran mandatory minimum sponsor fee would seem to be the ideal solution to this problem.  Establish some threshold number of fights, say six to ten, after which the mandatory minimum would kick in and ensure  that veterans like Castillo aren’t being lumped in sponsor pay-wise, with the recently signed debutantes.  Setting up that bar at even six fights would be significant enough as  your average fighter with Zuffa would rarely qualify.  With the veteran mandatory minimum in place, tenured fighters that are the backbone of the UFC would be more adequately compensated and rewarded for time served with the company.


Castillo is a veteran and that isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to being in Zuffa. If past statements by Zuffa brass are any judge, Castillo is probably closer to being the WSOF’s next hot new signing than he is of receiving fairer treatment within the UFC for his veteran status. Tenure with Zuffa is sometimes more of a career impediment than a career achievement. Oh you’ve got twenty fights with Zuffa? In Dana White’s book most likely “He’s super fucking expensive,” which in the case of Jon Fitch will get you cut. Twenty fights into your Zuffa career and not Top 10-15? Dana will say “He’s on the downswing, and he’s never going to be the guy…..Right now, at this point, he’s just another guy,” which is what he said about Jake Shields upon cutting him. The sponsorship structure that Zuffa institute with the Reebok deal may not adequately take care of veteran fighters and that may not be a coincidence. The UFC machine is going to roll on, and the efforts of those coming in the door may outweigh the concerns of those within the organization who are closer to heading out the door.


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