A lil show on ESPN called Outside the Lines got some great free publicity earlier this week when Dana White flipped out and called it’s segment on UFC fighter pay a ‘hack job.’ There probably weren’t that many people chuffed to get up on Sunday morning to watch a news piece on the UFC … until Dana said this:
I’m excited to smash and discredit ESPN and the piece they did!! So pumped! can’t stand the lying 2 faced media fucks!! So glad we did this one right cause ESPN can NOT be trusted. can’t stand the lying 2 faced media fucks!!
All of a sudden the show sounds a bit more interesting, doesn’t it? The segment itself was nothing too explosive for those of us who’ve followed the sport for a while. New fighters get paid as low as 6k/6k and there’s arguments over what percentage of the UFC’s money is going to fighters. While opinions may be split on whether one thinks current pay figures are fair, the more interesting part of this story lies in the curtain of silence the UFC has managed to pull across the scene:
“Outside the Lines has spoken with more than 20 current, former and potential UFC fighters, as well as agents and promoters,” ESPN’s John Barr said as he strolled around a cage in the televised segment. “To a person, they say UFC fighters have not received their fair share of the company’s rapidly increasing revenue. Nearly all of them also refused to speak on camera, for fear the UFC would blackball them.”
What do you say about that, Lorenzo Fertitta?
Fertitta, CEO of Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC, said dissent among fighters is not only commonplace but tolerated.
“Anybody can talk about anything. We’ve had plenty of situations where fighters have come out and made statements. … Have they been blackballed or banned? Absolutely not,” Fertitta said.
O RLY? That’s funny because it certainly seemed like Roger Huerta was blackballed when he complained about fighter pay and unpaid promotional appearances to FIGHT magazine a few years ago. Not only did they bench him for over a year before turfing him out of the promotion, they retroactively went back and removed him from re-airings of events he fought on.
There was also that incident with Jon Fitch and AKA. The UFC was in the middle of securing likeness rights from their roster for shit like the UFC videogames and Fitch had the temerity to say “I don’t think it’s fair we shoud give this stuff up for life, for free.” Not only did Dana White fire Fitch, he fired Fitch’s entire camp. Cooler heads prevailed, but if that incident doesn’t show you why UFC fighters are a little bit skittish when it comes to stuff like this, I don’t know what will.
The UFC’s reaction to this ESPN piece itself encapsulates exactly the kind of problem the show was trying to underscore. A news media outlet decides to do a story on fighter pay. The UFC freaks out, calling the people behind it hacks and “lying 2 faced media fucks” … before they even see it!
“I don’t even have to see the completed piece,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) following Friday’s UFC 142 weigh-ins in Rio de Janeiro. “They didn’t even have to show up for the interview for me to know what they were doing. That’s why I didn’t do the interview. I refused. I turned it down. They wanted me and (UFC co-owner) Lorenzo (Fertitta). I refused and turned it down.
“I want nothing to do with ESPN’s sneaky [expletive] ‘E:60′ and ‘Outside the Lines’ and all their crock of [expletive] shows. These guys come out with an agenda.”
Yeah, the UFC doesn’t over-react to people bringing up fighter pay at all.