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Israel Adesanya’s ‘trickle-down’ theory won’t work if his purse remains undisclosed

The UFC middleweight champ thinks his new deal will help other fighters. It won’t if he refuses to reveal his pay

In the lead up to UFC 271, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya signed a new deal with the promotion. In a press release, his management team at Paradigm Sports touted the deal — without revealing any details — as “one of the most lucrative multi-fight deals in company history.” The agency added that the signing would make Adesanya “one of the top paid athletes in the history of mixed martial arts.”

After he defeated Whittaker at UFC 271 — his fourth defense of the UFC middleweight crown — Adesanya said he felt, “like this is going to trickle down to the rest of the fighters because, yeah, it’s time.”

There’s one way for that trickle-down effect to occur and from what we found out from Paradigm’s Tim Simpson on Wednesday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Adesanya’s actions will prevent that from happening.

Simpson said that he believes that all UFC salaries should be disclosed, if not to the public, at least to all managers and agents who work on contracts with the UFC. Simpson said that disclosure would allow knowledge of where fighters stand in pay when they are compared to other fighters. That knowledge, according to Simpson, would give leverage to the fighters when working out compensation with the UFC.

Simpson is on the mark. When other sports (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB) began to disclose athlete compensation, the athletes saw pay rise exponentially.

When asked why he can’t reveal what Adesanya makes. Simpson said, “Why we can’t release it (the contract details) publicly, that’s Israel’s call.”

Simpson added he did not like that and said salaries “should always be disclosed.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Simpson.

I see Adesanya’s refusal to reveal his salary as the point where his statement that his contract will have a trickle-down effect becomes a bunch of empty words.

If Adesanya wants to drive the process forward and help to raise UFC pay, he needs to let other fighters, and their representatives, know what he makes. Keeping that number secret puts all the power in the hands of the UFC. If a fighter doesn’t have a starting point to negotiate from, they will always be at a disadvantage when it comes time to hammer out a deal.

Adesanya’s representatives know that fact, hopefully they can convince him — and other fighters under their umbrella — that releasing fighter pay information would be an enormous benefit to all fighters on the UFC roster.