At least for the time being, fighter pay will be one of the top recurring hot topics in MMA today. From their end, UFC president Dana White continues to brush off the issue.
But in a recent appearance on YouTube show Pardon My Take ahead of last weekend’s UFC 268, White made a revelation. According to him, a “prelim fighter” made quite a handsome payday, much more than a former two-time world boxing champion.
“You know this kid Bo (Badou) Jack? The boxer, right? Former world champion. He’s fighting this weekend, I guess, in the Middle East. And he’s making $75,000. A guy who isn’t even… he’s on the prelims. Never been a world champion — and I won’t mention his name — is making $750,000.
“Prelim fighter. Never been a world champion is making $750,000.”
Now, anyone who drops such compelling information should have the decency to at least drop a name, as well. White, however, isn’t doing that for the sake of the individual in question.
“The problem is that we don’t tell anybody what we pay. That’s what drives everybody crazy. Drives them f—ng crazy. They want to know so bad,” White said.
“Now, the fighters can tell people what they make. You notice that they don’t? None of them came out and say, ‘I don’t make any money, I only made this much money for this fight.’
“Nobody comes out. They don’t want anybody knowing what they make for the fight. When your numbers come out publicly, it’s a shitshow. Everybody’s hitting you up for money. Now, all these people think that these guys don’t get paid, they don’t make any money.
“So nobody’s gonna be trying to borrow any money off ya.”
Looking at the UFC 268 line-up, it would be impossible to fathom who this “prelim fighter” could be. But long-time MMA insider Ariel Helwani reports he is talking about Michael Chandler, who was on the main card.
He’s talking about Chandler— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 10, 2021
Yeah. I know. That’s the rub. He probably meant undercard and knew they wouldn’t know the difference— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 10, 2021
And yes I know Chandler wasn’t on the undercard either. Don’t make me make sense of this. But that’s 100% who he’s talking about— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 10, 2021
The official UFC 268 salaries have not been disclosed, but there are some reports saying that Chandler supposedly made around $250,000. The other possible option could be his opponent in Justin Gaethje, who had a disclosed purse of $350,000 on his title loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. That amount would be the standard bump up in a title fight though.
Both of these main card fighters also won fight of the night honors, adding an extra $50,000 to their total payouts. Reaching $750,000 for either fighter would mean they would have a huge side letter amount on their contracts.
Most states the UFC operates in don’t release purses to the public anymore, and the promotion also considers it a trade secret. Despite White’s claims about fighter pay not really being an issue, so many financial documents and figures have actually come out in recent years. We now have a pretty clear picture of how much the UFC makes and how little goes to the athletes, and it’s not exactly a good look.