Johnny Hendricks can thank GSP for Reebok

Heading into his title challenge of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, Johnny Hendricks will be sporting an impressive sponsor: Ariel Helwani reported on UFC Tonight that Reebok will be sponsoring Hendricks for his bout with GSP. Terms of the sponsorship are not released.

The move is double-fold. While Hendricks is an excellent fighter, he’s no more bankable than other title contenders in the past. It’s only logical that Reebok looks to benefit most from the presence of GSP. The number of eyeballs that will be trained on Hendricks is directly correlated to the number of eyeballs drawn to the champ himself. Further to this, the report os that Reebok is only willing to pay the UFC’s sponsorship tax – meant to promote it’s own partners by dissuading competitors – for only this one fight.

That does not mean Hendricks himself isn’t a good bet for Reebok. He’s considered the best contender GSP has had to face in some time, so the odds he takes the belt and instantly reaps Reebok the rewards of it’s sponsorship is very good.

Most important, it testifies to the growth of the sport. It’s hard to fathom that in only 15 years, the promotion has drawn such brand power.

Big-name sponsorship is young to the MMA game – light heavyweight champ Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is one of the few with big-name brands (Nike, Gatorade, the UFC itself) and is the most securely sponsored fighters in the game. Now one of Nike’s competitos has stepped into the fray – at a cost.

Reebok tried to wade into the Octagon years ago with Rampage Jackson. They were dissuaded by the UFC’s sponsorship tax. Essentially, the NFL does the same thing except punishes it’s own athletes by fining them for gear of non-league sponsors.

It appears Reebok is willing to pay up to get their brand out there – to the benefit of Hendricks.

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