When Anderson Silva enters the cage to defend his UFC middleweight title Aug. 27 in Rio de Janeiro, he will do so as the first Brazilian mixed martial artist to be sponsored by Nike.
The 36-year-old Silva, who meets Japan’s Yushin Okami later this month in the main event of UFC 134, recently closed a sponsorship agreement with the sports apparel mega-brand. Nike Brazil Director of Sports Marketing Luis Alexandre confirmed the deal to UOL.com.br Tuesday; exact terms were not disclosed.
The news comes days after a cryptic video of Silva appeared online, sparking rumors of the transaction. The 90-second clip featured Silva staring menacingly at a camera, as he would an opponent, dressed in a red t-shirt with a prominent Nike “swoosh” logo.
With the deal, Silva joins the likes of Yoshihiro Akiyama, Caol Uno and Kazuyuki Miyata as MMA fighters who have been backed by Nike. Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao also numbers among the company’s athletes, while ex-UFC heavyweight Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson was featured in a series of Nike viral ads alongside NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008.
Nike is not the only major sponsor “The Spider” has added to his portfolio of late.
Last week, the Brazilian branch of fast-food giant Burger King announced Silva as one of its new promotional faces. On Monday, officials from Brazilian soccer team Sport Club Corinthians Paulista -- also sponsored by Nike -- announced a multi-tiered marketing initiative in which the pound-for-pound great will be prominently featured. Silva, a well-known Corinthians booster, will don the club’s jersey during his entrance at UFC 134 and will lend his name to a new MMA facility to be constructed by the team in his hometown of Sao Paulo.
All three of Silva’s recent sponsorship deals were brokered by 9ine, the upstart sports marketing firm with whom Silva joined forces in January. The founder of 9ine, recently retired soccer great Ronaldo, was himself a longtime Nike spokesman who finished his career playing for Corinthians.
This item was updated Aug. 2 at 8:31 p.m. ET.