After talking to Monster and Hans Molenkamp, Dominick Cruz feels a lot better about his relationship with the longtime sponsor and its rep.
That said, the offer he made after his most recent fight is on the table.
“I’m still completely open to a charity fight with Hans Molenkamp,” Cruz said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “That’s there. I think Hans might be open to that, too. I don’t know. He might really want to punch me in the face by this point, who knows. But I have no beef with Monster.”
It appeared that might not be the case after Cruz used a post-win interview in March to call out Molenkamp, igniting a discussion about the rep’s behavior, the role of sponsors in the MMA industry, and even accusations of impropriety from former Monster employees and UFC fighters.
Cruz said he didn’t intend to start a debate about a sponsor he believes has done a lot of good things for fighters. He just had a bad taste in his mouth after dealing with Molenkamp, and he didn’t hide it. With some reflection, he realized that was as much his fault as it was the Monster employee.
“This was never about Monster,” Cruz said. “It was about me and my relationship with one person, and I called him out on that night, because they asked me who I wanted to face next, and I told them the truth. You can’t get mad at a guy for telling the truth.
“My beef with Monster is nonexistent. There is no beef with Monster. Monster has supported athletes all over the world, and they’re supporting me still to this day, because me and Monster have always been cool — it was me and this person that needed to discuss things and have a clear-off and some communication, and we have.”
One of the issues that came to light as the result of Cruz’s post-fight interview was Molenkamp’s position of power and the use of social media for personal benefit. Cruz accused the rep of threatening his status with Monster if he didn’t comment on posts.
Looking back on the situation, Cruz said, the whole situation boiled down to a lack of communication. So eventually, he said he and Molenkamp talked things out.
“Well, I mean, I’m an adult,” Cruz said. “So I definitely talked it out, but it was coming down to the social media thing, where if I take a picture with the Lamborghini, I own the Lamborghini. Once I cleared [up], hey, as much as you might think I’m the Lamborghini that you get to stunt in front of, let’s make a clear communication and a boundary right now that that can’t be used.
“When looking at the big picture, I come down to I’m responsible for everything I create in my life. So in the end, it was my responsibility to create a boundary with this person in the first place that I didn’t do, which created a resentment. Expectations are resentments under construction. I really expected that this guy wouldn’t need my platform in order to build himself. That’s like, I think, man to man, eye to eye, shouldn’t have to say that to another man. However, this day and age, look all around us. That’s what we’re living in this world where the internet can botch reality. People who live in a little tiny bubble in a chasm, or in a cavern, can look out and pretend that they’re something huge. So when you grab on to people that are doing something with their life and run with it, you can now latch ahold of that and make something of yourself.”
Molenkamp continues to work with Monster in a contract position for Athletics Business Development; the rep did not respond to a request for comment from MMA Fighting about Cruz’s charity fight offer.
Cruz, a two-time UFC bantamweight champion, is making what could be his final push for a belt as he returns to the octagon at UFC 269 for a bout against Pedro Munhoz. As many of his contemporaries retire, he remains passionate about the sport and his desire to be champ.
Behind the scenes, Cruz is applying the same exacting standards of his training to the relationships he has with people in the business. If you want to use him to build your brand, there better be a clear set of expectations.
“What I needed to do was create that boundary, and as soon as I do that, I can be friends with anybody,” he said. “Boundaries were my issue in that situation — that I didn’t create — and so now me and Monster, and me and that person, all of us can get along. It was my responsibility to do that, I didn’t do that in the first place, and here we are. It all worked out.”