Just like those NSA spying stories, the topic of fighter pay just won’t seem to go away. And while the UFC has done everything it can to stomp out dissent amongst and outside of its ranks, they can’t stop the MMA media from bringing the subject up again and again and again during Q&A sessions. And now sometime over the UFC 162 / Fan Expo weekend, Dana White gave the ultimate ‘UFC pay doesn’t suck, lower end UFC fighters suck’ speech:
“That might sound f— mean and harsh and [mocking tone of voice] ‘why should somebody not matter, everybody matters.’ We’re getting to where we are in a society now where, everyone wins a trophy. No, everyone doesn’t win a f— trophy. The guys who stand out and the guys who make it exciting, the guys who raise to the top are the guys who deserve the money.”
“The UFC, every time we do a fight, whether its on pay-per-view or on TV or whatever, people make the decision to stay home on a Saturday night and not do anything else when there’s movies, dinners, spending time with families, “White said. “There’s a lot of s– to do on a Saturday night. These people make a decision to stay home on a Saturday night and watch our show.
“We get a show with a bunch of guys who want to push against the f— fence and stand there for 15 f— minutes and try to squeak out a win? How many people do you think are gonna tune in next Saturday? And if this keeps continuing, this becomes f— boxing, where guys keep running around in circles and nobody fights and you walk away going ‘this fight sucked.'”
“Be the guy who stands out,” White said. “You’re the guy people want to see again. You’re the guy people want to spend money for. You’re the guy people by tickets, PPV, people stay home on Saturday night. John Cholish is not that f— guy and never will be. So now John Cholish says ‘We don’t get paid enough money.’ No, you didn’t get paid enough. You know why you didn’t get paid enough? Cause you didn’t f— deserve it.”
Wow, that really was an epic mean and harsh way to approach the topic of guys making 8k/8k per fight in an organization making eight figures per PPV event. It does explain the whole ‘swapping out bonuses for higher pay’ discussion though – White is talking about all those discretionary locker room bonuses Randy Couture made famous when he split with the company.
After every event, Zuffa brass would go and throw around sick piles of cash to those they felt deserved it – often above and beyond what the fighters were set to make based on their contract. Unnecessary largess and pretty cool? Sure. But it had the negative effect of leaving athletes stuck hoping for handouts from their bosses. Great for those who get noticed. Not so great for anyone else.
From that point of view, yeah, I’d rather the fighters get a guaranteed higher pay rather than be stuck relying on the whims of upper management to scrape by. But honestly, it doesn’t sound like White is anywhere near the mindset where paying the lower guys fairly is really an option.