The entry of Nike into the MMA sponsorship world is “awesome”, according to UFC president Dana White.
International offshoots of the company have previously sponsored the likes of Caol Uno and Yoshihiro Akiyama in Japan, but the ‘proper’ Nike’s first real sponsorship has been Jon Jones, the UFC light-heavyweight champion who signed a worldwide deal recently.
Anderson Silva had a deal with Nike Brazil in place prior to Jones’s signing and that has since also been bumped up to a worldwide deal. So, does it mean that the sport is on the verge of bringing in blue-chip sponsors at last?
“I think its awesome. Nike are behind him and they dig having him as one of their athletes. Its good stuff. Anderson too. I think Ronda Rousey is another one Nike could go after. And there’s a lot of other guys that are talented, good dudes in this sport that I think Nike would line up well with. Could be the future,” White says.
“We are always talking to people [like Nike]. I used to do that, I don’t do that any more,” he added with a grin, plainly aware of his own reputation for gruffness and for sometimes being difficult to deal with because of his bluntness.
White also touched on his relationship with Jones and coach Greg Jackson following the recent fall-out between the sides. White had blasted Jackson as a “sport killer” for advising his protégé Jones to turn down a fight with Chael Sonnen on a week’s notice.
“When I sat down with Jon Jones and we talked, I made a deal with John. So I am not going to say anything about Greg Jackson. I think you know my opinion and how I feel, that hasn’t changed. I am just not going to talk about Greg Jackson. I will keep my big mouth shut about Greg Jackson. That’s part of my deal with Jones,” White smiled.
“Its not that I dislike the guy, I don’t dislike him at all. Its his business, conflicts with my business. I do believe Jon Jones’ arm would feel a lot better right now if he didn’t listen to Greg Jackson. That’s all I am going to say.
“I don’t think [the arm injury] as bad as everybody thought it was. I don’t know about this year but I think he is gonna be good, I don’t think there is any real damage there. I think he is gonna be fine,” he concluded.