Many UFC fighters have long complained about not being paid enough, but recently more top stars are being vocal about the issue.
Multiple fighters have either held out, retired, and/or asked to be released from their contracts in Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal, Henry Cejudo, and late last night after UFC 250, Conor McGregor. Even more veteran fighters took to social media about the issue as well, banking on top stars finally organizing to help all the athletes.
When asked why there has been more unrest about fighter pay, Dana White called it a stupid question, and (again) stated that most of the media will be laid off soon.
“I have no idea why that’s going on. So you want me to tell you why this is going on right now?” White said on the post-fight press conference. “That’s a really stupid question. Such a stupid question.
“We’re in a pandemic now, and the world is going crazy right now, and all these guys are like ‘I want more money too!’ But let me tell you what’s going to happen, I’m gonna predict the future here. Most of the media in this country is going to get laid off in the next several months, and that’s going to be a bigger — everybody is going to wants money. Nobody wants to get laid off.”
White went on to say that he doesn’t know why fighters aren’t happy, and frankly, doesn’t care.
“Nothing is normal right now. Everything is crazy. I am the only guy that is pulling off sporting events right now. But you’re asking me a question, I don’t f—king know! I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in the next f—king month in my business. I don’t know! I don’t give a f—k!
“I’m doing what I can do to keep the bus on the f—king highway, or the train on the tracks, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t give a f—k! If people don’t want to fight, you don’t have to fight! If you’re afraid of COVID-19, stay home. Whatever your deal is, you don’t have to do it.”
As fighters have pointed out recently, the problem with White’s “you don’t have to fight” lines he has repeated a lot, is that they’re on an exclusive contract and can’t really go anywhere else.
It then just becomes a matter of fighters holding out and not being able to fight or get paid, but this is a battle that a multi-billion dollar company can do longer than an athlete with a limited shelf life. UFC holds most of the leverage. This is why Masvidal, Jones and others have tried asking for a release, but also why White isn’t likely to grant any of that.
If fighters want to earn more than their 17% cut of the revenue, doing it individually isn’t going to cut it. Finally organizing as a collective group of fighters would improve their odds, but even then, it’s not going to be easy.