The relationship between Dana White and pro boxing has often been a rocky one. While Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather, and (reportedly) the UFC all made a huge pile of cash for the crossover superfight between the two combat sports super stars White has often lamented the way boxing does business.
“Why is boxing dying? Because the sport has become so greedy,” Dana White told the Stanford Graduate School of Business way back in 2013. “Nobody was ever thinking about the future of the sport. It’s about how much money we can put in our pocket, right here, right now.”
White went on to rail about the demotivating factor that money can be; how, essentially, if fighters are millionaires they won’t stay hungry enough to put on entertaining bouts.
On the flip side, however, 2022 has been great for top level boxing so far. This year has seen a string of major title fights, the latest of which featured two of the most dominant champions in women’s boxing history squaring off in what ended up being a 10-round war. But if time seemingly hasn’t diminished boxing’s ability to put on big fights or pay top fighters big purses, it also hasn’t changed Dana White’s tune at all.
In a recent interview with the Pivot podcast, White talked about the ongoing debate over low fighter pay in the UFC and why boxers make so much more. To hear White tell it, boxers just aren’t earning the money they’re getting.
“One of the big problems with boxing, too,” White explained, “is that all those fucking guys are overpaid. And every time they put on a fight, it’s a ‘Going Out of Business’ sale. You know what I mean? ‘We’re just trying to get as much fucking money as we can from you guys, and then we’re out of here and we’ll see you in three years.’
“You can’t build a league like that, you can’t build a sport. You can’t have 750 fighters under contract, making money, feeding their families every year, with that kind of mentality. It doesn’t work. You have to run a business.”
“All those F*cking guys are overpaid” - @danawhite— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) May 3, 2022
The @ufc pay scale as been a large topic. We went straight to the man that built the structure & as usual he had no problem letting @thepivot know the real deal! @OfficialCrowder @FredTaylorMade @alicialauren
Live @ noon pic.twitter.com/CYMjcLmCUm
Of course, when it comes to speaking more directly to fighters about fighter pay, and not just to fans and the media, White’s talking points become a little different than a focus on protecting a livelihood or feeding a family.
“When you’re a professional athlete, you have a very small window of opportunity, a very limited amount of time,” White said back in 2020, addressing a contract dispute between the UFC and Jorge Masvidal. “You know, we get into all this money shit and the stuff that’s going on right now—everyone acts like this is a career. This isn’t a career. This is not a career, this is an opportunity. Anything can happen at any given moment; a knee can blow out, your back, your this, your that, Covid 19! Who the hell knows what’s coming down the pipeline. So you have to take every opportunity that you can get.”
As long as it doesn’t look like the UFC is going to open up their pocketbook any wider in the near future, it seems that top-level MMA talent will continue to look to boxing for the kind of high end late-career paydays that their home sport just can’t offer. After all, it’d be foolish to pass up an opportunity like that.