One of the most debatable topics in the MMA world right now is fighter pay, with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and UFC fighter Jorge Masvidal coming out publicly demanding their releases if the promotion doesn’t pay them better.
UFC President Dana White recently appeared on ESPN’s First Take and the fighter debate took center stage again, with former NFL player and NFL Players Association member Dominque Foxworth going opposite the UFC President.
White kicked everything off by talking about the contracts both Jones and Masvidal recently signed (transcript via Damon Martin of MMA Fighting).
“Jon Jones just signed a new deal less than a year ago,” White said. “He’s got eight fights left on his deal. What do you want me to tell you? The guy’s got a deal. Same thing with Masvidal. Masvidal just signed a new deal seven months ago. These guys both got brand new deals that they were more than happy to sign less than a year ago. Does anybody feel like they make too much money? Nobody does. If we were talking about a thing where these guys had old contracts from three years ago and it’s like ‘that was three years ago that I did this deal, let’s [renegotiate].’ They signed these less than a year ago. This was months ago. By the way, I don’t know if you know this but we’re in a pandemic and no other sports are going. Oh, by the way, every other sport out there is arguing about money right now. I haven’t laid off one employee. I haven’t asked any of my fighters to take less money, and you don’t hear me out here crying about, ‘No, I don’t get any gates, I don’t have this, I don’t have [that].’ You don’t hear me crying. I’m running my business. I’m paying everybody. Right now, if you think it’s easy to be a business owner right now here in today, you are right out of your mind. There has never been a harder time to do business than right now. Guess what? I’m pulling it off.”
Foxworth replied to White’s comments by stating that all contracts signed by fighters aren’t necessarily fair to them in the end.
“Saying that they just signed contracts doesn’t speak to the leverage that they have in negotiations,” Foxworth said. “Just because they signed contracts doesn’t necessarily mean the contracts are fair. I’m not informed enough to know whether contracts are fair or not, but I understand when there’s a track record of a number of athletes over a period of time having an issue with someone or a company, then that seems like a group that needs unionization in order to have the leverage to get the things that they want.”
The UFC President would then talk about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected business.
“Welcome to the fight business, my friend,” White said. “So right now we’re in a pandemic and all this stuff is going on. We just signed a contract eight months ago. You see me saying, ‘Oh no, no, this is going on and that’s going on, I have to pay you less money.’ No, I’m paying them exactly the same amount of money no matter what’s going on. In the history of this company, I’ve never asked a fighter to go backward, ever. I have 630 fighters under contract and we’re talking about two.”
It all came to an end on ESPN First Take when Foxworth brought up that a lot of UFC fighters are unhappy at the moment.
“I do know the ins and outs of sports labor,” Foxworth said. “I know that when you have a bunch of angry, upset athletes, there’s normally a reason why they should be angry and upset.”
One thing is definite at the moment and that is that the issues between the UFC and fighter pay won’t be going away anytime soon.