Reebok, the UFC’s official apparel sponsor, has taken the rare step of publicly disavowing the words of a Rebook-attired UFC athlete.
The Massachusetts-based company issued a statement Wednesday to Bloody Elbow distancing itself from statements made by UFC welterweight contender Colby Covington, who had several controversial comments regarding the Black Lives Matter movement last week, in the lead-up to and aftermath of his UFC on ESPN+ 36 main event victory over Tyron Woodley.
In the post-fight news conference, Covington referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as, among other things, “a complete sham” and “terrorists.”
“The Black Lives Matter is a complete sham,” Covington said. “It’s a joke. They’re taking these people that are complete terrorists. They’re taking these people that that are criminals. These aren’t people that are hardworking Americans, blue-collar Americans. These are bad people. They’re criminals.
“They shouldn’t be attacking police. If you’re breaking the law and you’re threatening the cops with weapons, you deserve to get what you get. Law enforcement protects us all. If we don’t have law enforcement, it’d be the wild wild west.”
In a statement to Bloody Elbow, Reebok clarified it does not have a separate sponsorship for Covington, as it does with several top fighters, and says they do not agree with his comments.
“Reebok is the uniform provider for the UFC, however we do not sponsor Colby Covington,” the statement read. “We do not agree with the sentiments he expressed, and stand firm in our belief that Black lives matter. We stand with athletes and communities who are fighting for change.”
Reebok has been the UFC’s official apparel sponsor since 2015. While several UFC athletes have made controversial comments over the years that have been perceived by many as misogynistic, homophobic or transphobic, the company does not have a track record of publicly denouncing athlete speech.
Earlier this year, the company ended its role as title sponsor of the Crossfit Games after Crossfit founder Greg Glassman made a series of racist public comments.
Reebok’s deal as UFC apparel sponsor runs through the end of next March, after which Venum becomes the official sponsor.