(Think that’s bad? Just wait until you see what Reebok has planned for UFC Korea…)
To describe both fan and fighter reaction to the UFC’s deal with Reebok as anything other than “hostile” would be a bridge too far for most MMA writers to cross. On the UFC side of things, dozens of fighters have publicly lamented the sad realities of the deal, legendary cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran was fired by the UFC after speaking up against it, and Brendan Schaub essentially retired because of it. (It’s honestly as if they don’t understand that matching spandex uniforms are the *one* thing keeping MMA from mainstream acceptance.)
Of course, it doesn’t help that Reebok seems to be f*cking up at every turn just as badly as the UFC is. The apparel company’s Facebook page has been flooded with negative comments since the very start of the deal, their Fight Kit unveiling ceremony was a train wreck, the sponsorship figures are garbage, and the uniforms themselves are both insanely overpriced and wholly unappealing.
And now, Reebok has dropped the ball yet again.
Details after the jump.
In an attempt to shill to Irish fans/promote this weekend’s Fight Night 76 in Dublin, Reebok released the “UFC Ireland Map Tee” pictured below.
Doesn’t seem too offensive at first glance, right? Well, the problem is that this “map of Ireland” doesn’t include Northern Ireland, a territory which — despite technically being aligned with the United Kingdom — has been the subject of a political and religious dispute for centuries. And not only that, but the shirt includes the tagline ”Show your UFC territorial allegiance”, which seems to imply that Northern Irish folk are neither Irish, worthy of even being considered in the debate, or somehow inferior to “actual” Irish.
Look, I know that we live in the era of manufactured outrage, and I won’t pretend to fully understand the scope of just how offensive this shirt is, so let’s get some perspective on this from someone who might. Say…John Kavanagh, aka Conor McGregor’s coach, a proud Irishman, and someone who just so happened to finalize a deal between Reebok and his SBG gym yesterday. Take it away, John!
Well, that was…um…ehh…not a good look.
Luckily for Kavanagh (or perhaps for Reebok), the shirt was quickly taken off Reebok.com. Speaking of which, a trip over to Reebok’s Fight Kits page reveals something else you might file under “concerning” — all of the fight kits have been removed, save a handful of the UFC’s biggest stars.
Now, this could be a simple glitch or have something to do with the massive series of firings expected to take place in the near future, but in any case, the hell is going on, Reebok?