The fighter was tossed out of the meeting, which he filmed, for bringing up the lopsided way the bonus structure is laid out.
“I was really just saying what everybody was thinking. We’re all in this conference center, and we’ve got these executives talking kind of at us — not really [with] us. It wasn’t a two-way conversation, we weren’t really able to ask any questions,” Johnson told Bloody Elbow. “There’s this Reebok dude that’s talking about how good the deal was for him, for his company, and for the UFC. And I’m just sitting there like, ‘Yeah, but what about us? There’s no fight without us. There’s no show without us. You got nothing to sponsor with us. The UFC has nothing to promote without us.’ So I stood up, and I said that. I was like, ‘Well, I understand it was good for you and the UFC, but you took food off our plates. I lost 80 percent of my sponsorship. You’re paying us almost nothing.’ He didn’t really know what to say. The woman that was interviewing him was trying to get me to sit down, and then this rep from the UFC came up and told me to stop filming, because I was filming the whole time. I wasn’t going to stop filming, I wasn’t going to sit down, obviously. I was going to say what I was gonna say; I came there to say it.”
Johnson was pulled out of the meeting, but would get a chance to speak his mind directly with UFC and Reebok executives.
However, it wasn’t just Johnson who got to speak his mind, but other UFC fighters as well.
“It was really, really productive,” Johnson said. “There were a lot of people that were speaking up. I spoke a little bit at the beginning, but I didn’t have to say very much; I just had to create that situation. And then the room just took over. There were guys like Joe Lauzon talking about numbers. Sara McMann was really vocal, giving a lot of great solutions and ideas that we can use to work around the deal that’s currently in place to put more money in fighters’ pockets. I don’t think it’s ever happened before that that many fighters have sat down and had an open and honest, back-and-forth conversation with high-level UFC executives outlining the problems and then trying to find solutions to those problems that work for both the company and the athletes.”
It has been almost two years since the last time Johnson stepped into the Octagon, which was a decision win over Naoyuki Kotana at UFC Fight Night 75.