With sporting talent comes titles and championships, leading to stardom and fame, and, eventually, a host of lucrative sponsorship deals and partnerships. That is no different in mixed martial arts, especially in recent years.
One man who’s experienced a quick rise is Adesanya. Since debuting in the UFC in 2018, the former kickboxer has remained undefeated at middleweight and, in doing so, captured gold on MMA’s biggest stage, as well as a large fanbase.
In 2020, Adesanya reaped the rewards of his growing fame when he was signed to a multi-year deal with Puma, a brand he’s been the face of in Oceania for the past couple of years. The deal marked Puma’s first partnership with an MMA fighter.
During a recent appearance on Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson, Adesanya discussed his ongoing relationship with Puma, whom he praised for allowing him to remain his authentic and outspoken self.
Discussing the freedom he has under his deal with the brand, “The Last Stylebender” suggested Puma knows he won’t embarrass them, something he believes former two-time UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was guilty of during his short tenure with Nike.
“My guy right there, Tim (Simpson), he hooks me up with some nice things. For example, I’m the first MMA fighter to be signed by Puma,” said Adesanya. “One thing I love—I never expected that. I thought, maybe like, one day, cause Jones had Nike till he became one of them guys and—[Imitates driving, shooting, and drug usage], all that stuff, and had it taken away from him.
“But me, I like the fact that Puma f*ck with me. They f*ck with the way I express myself. They see like, ‘This guy is not afraid to say what he wants to say. He’s a cool dude who expresses himself authentically. We f*ck with him.’ And they’ve never had a problem with anything I’ve said, anything I’ve tweeted… They know I’m not gonna embarrass them, they know me. I’ve met the team now,” concluded Adesanya.
Having secured a record-breaking championship crowning in 2011, a result that made him the youngest UFC champion in history, Jones was quickly signed to a partnership with sports giant Nike.
That endorsement deal, however, was quickly terminated following Jones’ pre-fight brawl with Daniel Cormier in 2014.
While the Cormier brawl was enough to convince Nike to jump ship, Jones’ antics outside the cage since would likely have done the job had his deal survived the 2014 incident.
As well as numerous failed drug tests, Jones has been arrested multiple times over the past decade, including on charges of domestic battery just last year. While Adesanya hasn’t been shy in taking shots at “Bones” and his legal troubles, some have pointed towards Jones’ young fame as the reasoning behind his troubles.
One of those individuals is UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. In 2014, “Thug Rose” fought for the inaugural 115-pound title at the age of just 21. Having lost to Carla Esparza and gone on to hold gold on two occasions since, Namajunas doesn’t believe she was ready for champion status at such a young age.
With that in mind, the 29-year-old sympathizes with Jones, suggesting she’d have likely gone down the same rocky path had she won the belt in her early twenties.
Do you think Jones Jones’ rapid rise to stardom and fame has played a part in his frequent run-ins with the law?