This week we learned that Condom Depot has been banned by Zuffa as a fighter sponsor for the WEC and UFC. This ban of Condom Depot as a fighter sponsor is a step in the right direction for mixed martial arts becoming mainstream and stepping into the same league as the NFL.
I would like to state for the record that I feel the ban of lines such as RVCA and Clinch are simply ridiculous. The ban of those companies as sponsors in the UFC should not be seen as the same as the ban of Condom Depot and sadly this is what is happening. You must look at the bans individually and evaluate them on their own merits. How does this effect fighters? How will it help to shape the future of the sport? Will someone be able to fill the shoes of said sponsor? All of these must be answered before a decision can be made as to if the ban is good or bad for the sport.
Condom Depot is a company that has been supporting fighters for over two years now and according to CD’s Jennifer Amato they have provided fighters 100s of thousands of dollars directly. I think what they have done for fighters is very commendable and I would like to personally thank them for helping to support the sport I love.
Having said that, it is time the UFC and mixed martial arts in general starts to become more picky as to who they allow to sponsor fighters. Sure, one could argue that it is up to the fighter who he or she represents but it is up to promotions to make sure the sport is viewed in a positive light. This is hard to do when a sponsor like Condom Depot is seen on the backsides of fighters. It is like a joke that you are afraid to touch. My wife has even asked why any fighter would want that on their backsides. Sure, they get paid but many companies are now looking to get into this sport and I am sure a fighter can find someone other than condom depot. Even if it has to be an awful clothing company with $75.00 t-shirts.
If this trend is continued then how long will it be before we see something more risque on a fighters shorts?
The promoters should work with fighters and help to get them in contact with sponsors that represent the sport in a positive light. I am not saying safe sex is something negative. Although we do need to keep in mind where the UFC is headed. This coming year will see a UFC event in Abu Dhabi which is very conservative. I am sure the Zuffa brass are aware of that fact and how ads such as Condom Depot would be perceived there. I am also sure they are looking to put together a list of much larger sponsors which are more widely accepted.
One such company is Nike. I know that after UFC 102 “The Natural” Randy Couture (16-8) stated that he had a meeting with people from Nike and they were very excited to be entering into mma. They were talking to Randy about a sponsorship. Rumor is that Team Quest has been testing gear for Nike.
I know many fans will say it is ridiculous to have Nike in the Octagon but I feel this helps to legitimize the sport. I am personally not a fan of Nike but I am sure they will offer high quality gear to fighters and fans. A sponsorship deal by Nike would be huge for a fighter, much more so than a deal with Condom Depot.
There is also the chance we will see the UFC on a major network station this coming year. Cable company Comcast recently purchased NBC and with Comcast running Versus, I fully believe this is the start of the UFC getting it’s network deal. How often due we see condom commercials on prime time network tv? That is usually relegated to later time slots thus making the ban of Condom Depot even more understandable.
Even though this will momentarily hurt the income of some fighters, I feel they will be better compensated in the long run when we see larger companies move into the world of mixed martial arts. Companies that may not have been comfortable to having their logo next to Condom Depot. This ban makes sense when looking at the bigger picture. Many fans simply see “right now” and fail to see the future of the sport and what it takes to get mma into the mainstream once and for all.
I know that I will take some heat for my stance and some may even suggest I am on Dana’s payroll but I assure you I am not. I am simply a mixed martial arts radio host and journalist that feels mma is the best sport in the world. Thus, I constantly and looking towards the future and what it will take for mma to be seen by the masses in the same light as they see the NFL. Dana and Zuffa are heading in the right direction in my opinion.