For several years the relationship between the UFC and the United States Military seemed solid with the MMA promotion delivering a handful of troop-oriented events and featuring Marines on a recent Ultimate Fighter coaches’ challenge. In fact, the latest competitor to be crowned a TUF champion – Colton Smith – is an active duty Army Ranger and some of MMA’s most popular fighters are former soldiers including Tim Kennedy and Brian Stann.
However, the military’s presence will decrease in the coming months after the Marines recently made a decision to not renew their sponsorship agreement when the deal ended late last month. The move was not necessarily aimed at the UFC specifically but the result of budget reallocation in terms of military sponsorship with sports leagues in general.
“Due to evolving mission requirements, budgetary constraints, marketing analysis and the recommendation of our contracted advertising agency, resources previously allocated to the endeavor have been applied to alternate priorities,” said spokesman Major John Caldwell in an interview with military publication Stars and Stripes.
It has also been reported that the UFC’s ongoing battle with the Culinary Union may have played a role as well when a group of veterans associated with the entity wrote a letter to military brass complaining about the UFC’s toleration of athletes “making jokes about rape, homophobic slurs and sexually explicit remarks that are demeaning towards women.”
The UFC has yet to officially comment on the matter.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC