Money has become topic du jour in the UFC. That’s not to say that fighters haven’t always cared about money (they have), but what was once a private conversation largely limited to managers and promotion has now become a public point of discussion for just about anyone on the roster who’s had to take a good hard look at their contract lately. As fighters like Rory MacDonald and Benson Henderson have made big, widely reported decisions to entertain (and eventually) accept other offers than the UFC when their contract came due, more fighters are figuring out just what they think they should be worth.
Recently, Luke Rockhold made it known that he was none-to-happy with the paycut he took after losing his middleweight title belt. HE was prepared to sit on the sidelines until a new, better deal got hammered out. That may have happend pretty quickly, as Rockhold is now set to fight Jacare, but in a recent interview with Submission Radio, flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson took some time to say, "I totally understand that."
"I think that’s with anybody," Johnson said, referring to the pressure champions face with a potential big pay reduction following a loss. "I think the only person who will ever lose in a fight and still end up making a million dollars, is Conor McGregor – that’s just because of how his contract is structured or whatever. But you got a guy like Luke Rockhold, where he was a champion and then he lost and now his pay isn’t what it used to be when he was the champion and he’s a little upset about that. I totally understand that. It totally makes sense.
"Same thing with TJ Dillashaw," Johnson continued. "I was mind-boggled when I saw that, how Sage Norhcutt made more than the (former) champion of the 135-pound division. So I mean, that’s just to show you. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is about the money. It is absolutely, one hundred and ten percent about the money. Because if there was no money on the line for these fights, I wouldn’t be fucking fighting. I’d be in the gym, still training and having a good time, but I wouldn’t be pushing my body to 185 beats per minute, making sure my body is 110 percent healthy, making sure I’m getting my diet on and making sure I’m gonna cut out alcohol, drinking and all that stuff. So there’s a lot that goes on the line when it comes to athletes getting ready to fight.
"You look at the NFL. Those guys want more money because we have a short opportunity to make as much money as possible. I’m only thirty now and I had ten years. I’ve fought for the UFC since 2011. So what is that? Essentially, five years I’ve competed in the UFC and I’ve been the champion for almost four years. I can’t retire right now. So if I was an NFL player and I played four years and won the super bowl four years in a row, I guarantee I can fucking retire. You’re starting to see a lot of fighters like, ‘We want more money so we can be able to retire eventually,’ instead of, we get to 30 years-old and we’re like, ‘Alright, I think Costco has openings’."
Johnson also talked about his intention of making a superfight with Dominick Cruz happen (it’d take $2 million), breaking Anderson Silva’s title defense record, and losing the chance to fight Wilson Reis at UFC 201. So, check out the whole interview.
Next up DJ is set to face the winner of this season's Ultimate Fighter, to be crowned at the TUF 24 Finale on December 3rd. This season features flyweight champs from organizations around the world, vying for a shot at the UFC title.