Dana White was on Fox 11 Los Angeles with James Koh the other day where they engaged in a 20 minute sit-down interview and discussion on all things UFC.
Part of the discussion focused on the coaches of this season's The Ultimate Fighter Fridays which premièred last night on FX. Koh pointed out the differences in image and personality Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson exhibit, and White was quick to comment on the man known as 'Big Country'
Dana White: I call him 'The Ultimate Underachiever', that's what he is, OK? This guy ... you know, he'll come to me and he'll say 'I want more sponsors, I got this, that ...', he's got a mullet down to the middle of his back ...
James Koh: (interrupting) ... And a huge belly!
Dana White: And a huge beard! A beard that almost covers the belly, and that's saying something. And I always tell him, 'Seriously? Who would want to put their ... somebody's going to want to put their company logo on that!?'.
Come on, the guy is just ... he won his season of The Ultimate Fighter, he's fought the best of the best ... Junior Dos Santos said he's the toughest fight he's ever had ... if the guy took his career this seriously -- (motions a tiny amount) -- what would he be able to do, what could he accomplish?
On a much more interesting subject, James Koh looks at the payouts for Boxing's Manny Pacquiao versus Timothy Bradley, and compared what they made to what Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen made in disclosed pay for their most recent fight at UFC 148, asking why the difference and why UFC don't fully disclose fighter pay.
After the jump, transcription of Dana White's comments on Fighter Pay, my closing thoughts and the full interview.
James Koh: This Manny Pacquiao / Timothy Bradley fight ... brought in about $9 million at the gate ... people bought about 900,000 Pay Per View buys, Manny's guaranteed about $26 million, Bradley guaranteed about $5 million. But when we look at UFC 148, Silva vs Sonnen, one of the most popular fights in UFC history, you guys brought in $7million at the gate, you guys sold about a million Pay Per View buys ...
Dana White: (interrupting) ... allegedly
James Koh: Allegedly (laughs) ... when we look at the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and we look at what Anderson Silva made, $200,000, Chael Sonnen made 50 grand -- 50 grand! -- So people say, 'This is crazy!', so I gotta ask you, why don't you guys disclose guaranteed amounts?
Dana White: Well we do, that is the guaranteed amount. That's the guaranteed amount. So here's the way that this really works ... you hear about Manny and Floyd, those are the two guys that are getting paid the Big Money ... the reality is if you look at this Dawson / Ward fight that just happened last weekend ... I think (Ward) made about $1.6 million and Dawson made about $600,000 ... that's a big fight outside of a Pacquiao / Floy fight, and if you look at the UFC numbers compared to Boxing now, we smoke (them) ... then when you look down their (fight) card, the numbers (salaries) drop big time. When you look at a UFC card, the numbers are consistent all the way through.
I'm not running around your question here, the answer to your question is , these guys obviously get paid a lot more money than what you're seeing on things (commission fight purse reports), they (fighters) come in, negotiate a contract, and there's other ways that these guys get paid through bonuses and incentives. And in no way, shape or form is there anywhere in their contract that says they couldn't come out and tell you what they make.
If Georges St. Pierre was sitting in this chair, or Anderson Silva, and they wanted to tell you what their last pay day was, they absolutely, positively have the right to do that, there's no gag order on them or anything; they don't want you to know ...
When we first did this deal with Fox, right? The Fox guys says ... 'What do these guys get paid?', we started telling them what some of the guys get paid and they were like, 'Oh my god! You guys should be screaming this from the roof tops ... don't you remember when (Mike) Tyson used to fight, and they'd put in the thing that he was making $30 million for that fight?' and I said to them, 'Yeah, and look what happened to Mike Tyson', you know what I mean?
When your money gets published and you're making big, big money ...
James Koh: (interrupting) ... the scavengers come out.
Dana White: They come out of the woodwork, man, and they're all over you. You know, we don't disclose what the fighters make and it kills the media, and it kills the fans, they want to know so bad ...
James Koh: (interrupting) ... because we see it in every other sport, Dana!
Dana White: (interrupting) ... in every other sport, I agree. No I agree with you, 100%.
James Koh: How did you get to that conclusion that you're not going to disclose that?
Dana White: It just started to happen, I mean we never disclosed our Pay Per View numbers because we don''t have to, we're not a public company, we never ... it's not about the money, 'cause no matter what in the media, because you don't know 'Oh these guys are getting screwed, they're not getting paid enough money', if it was out there on how much these guys really were making, (it becomes) 'Oh this guy was making $10 million for this fight, and that's how he fought, it becomes this, that ...' (interview clip fades out)
While not the most coherent of Dana White's interviews he makes some interesting points, but plenty of flawed ones too.
Regarding Roy Nelson, image is absolutely important in attracting sponsorship and endorsement, since you're representing that company while under the sponsorship agreement. You're essentially an ambassador for their brand, and how you look can reflect on how the general public perceive that company. If Nelson wants to keep the 'Big Country' personality, the big belly, big mullet and big beard, he shouldn't be surprised if his options are limited regarding companies that feel his image is something they want to associate their brand with.
Regarding the many aspects of fighter pay White touched on, if GSP and Anderson Silva did want to disclose what they made in public, they're in a position within the company where consequences of doing so are nil or at least extremely limited. Sure, there's no gag order according to White, but if a mid or low tier fighter -- someone that's ultimately more expendable than GSP or Silva -- disclosed his pay and the revelation happened to paint the UFC in a less than positive light, it wouldn't surprise me to see a vindictive response or reaction from Dana White and the UFC.
Let's not forget that Dana White wanted to cut the whole of the American Kickboxing Academy UFC fighters from the roster over Jon Fitch's initial questioning and rejection of the surrendering of fighter likeness rights when it came to negotiating a new contract with the company. Just recently Dana White went out of his way to publicly bury his Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones, when he now has to try and sell his fight with Vitor Belfort coming up next Saturday.
As for the comment about scavengers coming out if they knew what these fighters were making, maybe it's good that Dana White and the UFC looks out for their fighters this way, but it's also not their responsibility to nanny and coddle them either. They're grown men who are ultimately responsible for their own lives, and while they can be recommended financial advisers and maybe even psychological counsellors by the UFC, they don't need to be protected in this area especially when the UFC's energy is better served in areas of a fighter's life where they genuinely need the help.
The biggest issue of the UFC not fully disclosing fighter pay is their long term goal of attracting the better and more elite athlete to the sport of MMA. Dana White has claimed in the past that they're going to start attracting the athletes who might have otherwise gone into Football or Basketball as the UFC gets bigger, but how is this possible when these potential blue chippers only have the salaries the State Athletic Commissions and Boards release to go on, and see the huge discrepancy in earnings between UFC fighters and NFL or NBA players? If they do some digging and find the UFC purposely hides how much their fighters are really making, that's going to be a red flag for any athlete, agent and manager with a modicum of sense.
Instead if any of these athletes do get into MMA, it'll likely be because they washed out of the NFL or NBA due to injury or a skill handicap, instead of a raw talent that's dedicated to MMA from the get go. The thought of the UFC being a secondary option for athletes that can't make it in their primary sport -- for whatever reason -- creates the image of the UFC being a home for sport's desperate failures, when the UFC should aim to be seen as viable alternative on equal ground.
Author's Note: Due to a script error with the Fox 11 video embed, the comment system on BE seems to be stuck, so the video embed as been removed to correct.