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Editorial: If UFC can shaft Jim Miller out of money, what should other fighters expect?

UFC paid Jim Miller a “fraction” of his contracted money after UFC 258 fight fell through

Jim Miller was paid a fraction of his show money after UFC 258 fight fell through
Jim Miller was paid a fraction of his show money after UFC 258 fight fell through
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Jim Miller has been with the UFC since October 2008. Let that sink in. Miller has been with the UFC longer than the two fighters heading Saturday’s UFC 260 pay-per-view card, Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou have been professional fighters. That’s impressive. However, Miller’s tenure with the promotion — and the records he has set with the UFC — apparently matter very little to the folks who control the purse strings.

Here is what Miller has given to the UFC:

36 fights: Tied for most in UFC history

45 submission attempts: Most in UFC history

34 lightweight fights: Most in divisional history

19 lightweight wins: Most in divisional history

Nine lightweight submission wins: Most in divisional history

5:36:47 of total lightweight fight time: Most in divisional history

12 lightweight finishes: Second most in divisional history

Lightweight total strikes landed = 1346: Third most in divisional history

11 lightweight fight-night bonuses: Tied for third most in divisional history

1:01:35 of lightweight top position time: Fifth most in divisional history

1:14:08 of lightweight control time: Seventh most in divisional history

Lightweight significant strikes landed = 938: 10th most in divisional history

That’s a nice resume for a fighter who has never fought for a UFC title. Let’s also not forget that Miller is exactly the type of fighter the UFC looks for. He always goes for the finish. Miller does not want to go the distance. He does not fight for the win. He’s a fighter the UFC should point to as the exact kind of competitor who can succeed over a long while with the UFC. Miller is someone who has made a career out of his opportunity with the UFC. That’s a rare thing.

So when Miller completed his camp for a scheduled bout opposite Bobby Green at UFC 258 and flew from New Jersey to Las Vegas — during a global pandemic — and made the lightweight limit at the weigh-in, Miller was expecting a check of at least $105,000 (his last disclosed payout - Miller doubled that with a win and added $50,000 for “Performance of the Night”). Knowing Miller, he was probably thinking there was a good chance he would leave Las Vegas with around a quarter million dollars with a win and a fight-night bonus.

Things did not play out that way. In fact, things did not play out even close to what Miller likely expected.

Green, who had also weighed in, collapsed on the way to the pre-fight staredown. At that moment, Miller’s payday also collapsed.

“They gave me a percentage,” Miller said when asked if the UFC paid him his fight purse for the cancelled bout. “A fraction. You waste a week out in Las Vegas basically stuck in your hotel room and it’s like I made a couple thousand dollars for it. It sucks.”

Crazy, huh? You would think a fighter like Miller, the literal blueprint of what the UFC wants every fighter to be, would not get the shaft from the UFC, but he did. He did, in a big way.

Miller did everything required of him on fight week. He had zero influence on the fact that he could not fight at the event. But the UFC still decided, “you know what, screw this guy.” And with that, the man who had penciled in somewhere in the range of $100,000 into his savings book, had to take an eraser to some of those zeroes and tell his wife and children that his boss decided his time, effort and energy weren’t worth a full payout.

If that’s the way the UFC treats the fighter who has stepped into the octagon more than any other competitor save Donald Cerrone — who also has 36 UFC fights — what can a fighter who is making their debut expect? A handshake? A sympathy card with a Reebok coupon enclosed? A ticket to the buffet at Circus Circus? I don’t know, but what I do know is they shouldn’t expect the UFC to pay them their contracted money.

The thing is, it wasn’t always like this. Let’s look at UFC 187.

The fight between Rose Namajunas and Nina Ansaroff that was scheduled for that even fell through two hours before the card. But, according to the UFC, the promotion paid both Namajunas and Ansaroff their contracted purses.

So what’s changed? Why have some fighters received their contracted purses in the past? Well, that’s the $100,000(+) question isn’t it? It would be swell if the UFC would tell the fans, the media and the fighters exactly what’s changed over the past few years.

*Bloody Elbow reached out to UFC for some clarity on this situation and why some fighters have been paid full contracted amounts. The promotion did not respond by publication time.

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