Strikeforce’s Conor Heun Disappointed With Zuffa Sponsorship Tax
By JOSHUA MOLINA
Conor Heun is an explosive, hold-nothing-back fighter inside the cage. Outside the cage, his words can also be powerful.
Heun sparked a buzz in the cyber world this week with this tweet:
Hey @vexillumllc the UFC and #Strikeforce hit you with the sponsor tax huh? They are really taking $ out of the fighter’s pockets w dat BS!
Heun told Full Contact Fighter that he’s happy with Zuffa and Strikeforce, but that he is “disappointed” with the recent decision to charge companies that sponsor Strikeforce fighters $35,000. It’s a rule that has been in place with the UFC, and that has apparently carried over to Strikeforce.
Dana White’s statement, “It will be business as usual,” which he said repeatedly after Zuffa’s purchase of Strikeforce in March, is apparently open to interpretation.
“It takes money out of my pocket,” Heun said. “I am happy I have a place to fight and showcase my skills on the big stage, but it’s hard because I have small sponsors who have been sponsoring with me from the beginning, when I was fighting at shows in front of 500 people.
“They believed in me.”
Heun steps into the cage tonight on the undercard of Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. He will face Magno Almeida.
Heun is coming off two straight loses in closes fights, the latest of which was to KJ Noons by split decision.
Heun said that a tax on sponsors really hurts smaller companies who quite possibly cannot afford to pay. He was disappointed that he found out only a week ago.
“It’s a shame that the little guys are being shut out,” Heun said. “I would really like to represent the people who have started with me when I started out.”
Heun can still wear gear from his sponsors around the gym or restaurants, but he can’t wear it inside the cage.
“I have friends who were making T-shirts in their garage who were scraping money together to help me when I was just starting out,” Heun said.
Despite his opposition to the rule, he said that he’s grateful that he has a place to fight.
“They have to run a business and I understand,” Heun said. “I understand they are in control. You got all the chips you make the rules. They make the rules and I am happy to play by them.”
Heun said working for Zuffa has opened lots of opportunities. The other day, Heun said, he ran into a guy in the elevator who asked him, “do you fight for the UFC or MMA?” In the past, when that question came up, he would have to give a long explanation about Strikeforce, and what it was.
He no longer has to do that. He can just say that he fights for Strikeforce, which is owned by the UFC.
I am really happy to fight on the big show and he’s thrill at the opportunity win fight bonuses and have health insurance, offered by the UFC
“I am really blessed to be where I am at,” said Heun, a Los Angeles resident.
His fight will be televised on HDNet and he said he cannot wait to put on a show. He wants MMA fans to know who he is.
“I come forward and I try to take people out,” he said. “I don’t know how to keep points. I go out and try to knock people out or catch them with a submission.”