UFC’s new footwear deal with The Rock outed for exploiting athletes

UFC’s sponsorship agreement with Dwayne The Rock Johnson has not been well received by the public. Earlier this year, Dwayne Johnson and his Under Armour collab titled “Project Rock,” became the UFC’s exclusive footwear supplier.

This wouldn’t be as egregious if the athletes were actually compensated for having to wear these slippers and shoes. Instead – the promotion is the only one cashing in from the collaboration.


Two sources reported on the injustice.

According to journalist John S. Nash:

“Asked around and not only are fighters not going to get paid anything to wear the shoes, the UFC is apparently requiring fighters do interviews with Johnson’s media company Seven Bucks.”

Erik Magraken, a combat sports regulation attorney, then said the following:

“The shoe deal press release was silent on two key things. How much the UFC is pocketing. And how much goes to the fighters forced to wear the shoes. Seems the answer is 1. A s**t load 2. F**k all”

The first news did not sit well with MMA enthusiasts, as one fan noted:

“You really pimping these fighters” one observer directed at Johnson.

Luke Thomas, an MMA writer, finds it “extremely weird” that Dwayne Johnson’s Project Rock seems to be avoiding criticism. The former UFC partner, Reebok suffered substantial backlash after UFC sponsorship arrangements were unveiled. With the formal announcement of Johnson’s contract with the UFC, the reaction has begun to gain momentum.

A few days ago, MMA writer Luke Thomas posted the following on Twitter:

“Remember: no real raise from Reebok to Project Rock for the fighters. For all the criticism Reebok got for taking advantage of a market where fighters have no control, seems very odd Project Rock would escape those criticisms for doing exactly the same thing.”

One interesting thing to note is the Endeavor tie into all of this. UFC was purchased by Endeavor (formerly WME) for close to 6 billion. The current chair of WME is Ari Emanuel. For those who have watched Entourage in the 2010s, he’s the voracious agent who served as inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s character.

Ari Emanuel’s WME (now Endeavor) is also the longtime agency of Dwayne The Rock Johnson. In short UFC’s actual boss pimped the athletes who suffer brain damage so he could make a profit so that his longtime Hollywood client could get even richer all at their expense.

This is after Johnson’s first attempt to cash in on the UFC fanbase failed. Johnson was previously attached to a Mark Kerr biopic and had even godfathered the abomination that is the BMF belt all so that he could promote his venture. But Kerr was a staple of an older generation, far removed from the current fanbase of MMA casuals and as such the project died out due to no interest.