- UFC president Dana White grew defensive discussing fighters’ pay during an interview with ESPN’s Dan Le Batard.
- White said fighters could reveal their pay at any time, but that fighters don’t want people knowing how much they make, combatting Le Batard’s assertion that UFC fighters are underpaid.
- Pay varies between fighters, with some signing multi-fight deals and others getting paid per fight, all while they cannot represent sponsorships in the octagon.
- White discussed his public feud with Jon Jones over pay, saying UFC has allowed Jones to become a multimillionaire, despite several run-ins with the law and failed drug tests.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
UFC president Dana White grew defensive on ESPN’s “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” while discussing how much fighters are paid.
Unlike other sports leagues, fighters’ pay isn’t often made public. When Le Batard said he thinks UFC fighters are underpaid, White responded: “What the hell do you know? You like to yap. You don’t know anything about the business.”
White said every UFC fighter could reveal their pay if they wanted.
“Every fighter that fights for me has the opportunity to go out and say what they make,” White said. “They can say it publicly. Jon Jones isn’t saying what he made in his last four fights. I bet you wouldn’t say [fighters are underpaid] if you knew what he made. You definitely wouldn’t say it if you knew what Conor McGregor made. You definitely wouldn’t say it if you knew what Khabib [Nurmagomedov] made. And these women, the women that fight for us, are paid just like the men.
“So if you want to make a very uneducated remark like that then knock yourself out … If they wanted people to know, then they’d say it themselves. It’s not like they’re locked down on some kind of contractual thing where they can’t talk about their money. They can all talk about their money. None of them want to talk about their money publicly because they don’t want people knowing what they make.”
UFC fighters also don’t have a union. Le Batard asked White how he would feel if fighters wanted to unionize.
“Personally, when we go into venues, I deal with a lot of union guys. Not much gets done when there’s a union.”
The payouts from fighters are occasionally made public. After UFC 249, it was revealed by the Florida State Boxing Commission that Tony Ferguson made $US500,000 for the fight, the highest of any fighter in the event. Some fighters make bonuses through awards like “Performance of the Night” or “Fight of the Night.”
The pay for some of the top fighters, however, can be murkier. McGregor, for instance, signed a six-fight contract with UFC in 2018, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed. In 2015, he said he was looking for a nine-figure payday in excess of $US100 million.
A New York Post report from February 2020 calculated the fighters made about 16% of UFC’s total revenues.
While fighters can have outside sponsorships, they can’t have sponsorships in the octagon, limiting some of their earning potential.
White and Jon Jones are currently locked in a battle over money for Jones’ next fight. White told reporters that Jones was asking for an “absurd” amount of money. Jones denied ever asking for more money.
White said to Le Batard, referencing Jones’ failed drug tests and DUI arrests, “Where can a guy mess up as much as Jon Jones has and continue to work and continue to make millions and millions of dollars?”
After later calling Jones the “G.O.A.T.” White side-stepped a question about how much he thinks Jones is worth.
“It’s Jon Jones’ business,” he said.
White defended UFC’s business practices, saying he runs things his way and that he has made many people millions of dollars.
“I love this sport, I love what we do,” White said. “I’m here continuing to do what we do. We’ve made a lot of people rich, made a lot of multi-, multi-millionaires.”
Watch a clip of the interview below:
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