In a surprising move, the UFC took issue with Arnold Allen’s choice of footwear during a press conference ahead of UFC 297, censoring his Nike sneakers with tape.
The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on fans, as UFC President Dana White is often spotted wearing the same Nike model.
This incident raises questions about sponsorship opportunities for emerging stars, limiting their ability to customize kits and, now, dictating their choice of shoes at media obligations. While UFC previously partnered with Reebok for kits, the Venum era seems to continue this trend adding in the infamous Under Armour/The Rock shoe collaboration.
The censorship of Allen’s sneakers adds to the ongoing debate about stars’ rights to individual expression and sponsorship deals within the UFC. With the promotion’s history of resisting public pressure, this move reflects their commitment to maintaining control over the UFC brand image, even outside the cage.
Interestingly, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson announced a partnership between his Under Armour line and the UFC, becoming the official global footwear partner. This collaboration stirred mixed reactions, considering the shoes are not good looking nor comfortable.
Nate Diaz previously criticized The Rock’s collaboration during an interview, emphasizing that athletes aren’t being compensated for promoting the new line and then went and wore and even displayed his Nike sneaker at the presser after UFC 279.