UFC president Dana White not planning fighter raises

UFC President Dana White has said fighters’ compensation in the organization will not change dramatically while he is in his current position, telling GQ in a video posted Thursday that he believes the fighters “are paid what they are supposed to be paid”.

The topic of fighter pay has been a hot topic in MMA for years and has been thrust more into the spotlight by YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul in recent months. White said he thinks top boxers are overpaid and reiterated in the GQ interview that he thinks UFC fighters are paid more reasonably.

“Boxing has been completely destroyed, because of the money and everything that’s going on,” White said. “That’s never gonna happen while I’m here. Believe me, these guys get paid what they’re supposed to get paid. They eat what they kill. They get a percentage of the pay-per-view purchases. And the money is divided between all the fighters.”

The UFC pays fighters about 20% of its revenue, according to data uncovered in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit filed by some veterans against the promotion. Other major sports leagues, such as the NFL, NBA, and MLB, share about half of their revenue with players, but these leagues are unionized and athletes can bargain collectively through player associations. MMA fighters, and UFC fighters in particular, have nothing similar at the moment.

“Boxing has been completely destroyed, because of the money and everything that’s going on. That’s never going to happen while I’m here. Believe me, these guys are getting paid what they’re supposed to be paid. They eat what they kill, they get a percentage of pay-per-view purchases, and the money is split among all the fighters.

Dana White on UFC pay raises

UFC fighters are classified as independent contractors, which could make collective bargaining legally difficult. Several attempts to unionize UFC fighters have failed over the past 10 years, including one by former baseball agent Jeff Borris.

“There’s not too much you can talk about about the UFC,” White told GQ. “If you look at what we’ve done with the company over the past 22 years, it’s amazing. Never done, ever, the things we’ve done in the fight business. You always have to have something to grumble about. , I guess . And fighters always want to make more money.”

White and executives at UFC parent company Endeavor have argued that fighters’ compensation has grown exponentially over the past decade, although UFC revenue has also risen sharply since then.

“No major sports organization pays its athletes as badly as Dana White and the UFC,” Paul tweeted in response to White’s comments on GQ. “If you don’t see that, you’re one of Dana’s sheep. They keep talking about selling out 21 events in a row, but never talk about raising fighters’ salaries, giving them medical care. health and a fair distribution of income.

Antitrust lawsuit filed against the UFC in 2014 by veterans including Cung Le claims the promotion is a monopoly or monopsony, controlling the vast majority of the sport’s market share, locking fighters into restrictive contracts which do not allow them to test their worth in the free market and the suppression of wages.

The trial is being conducted by fighters from the MMA Fighters Association, which does not want unionization. Instead, MMAFA would like Boxing’s Muhammad Ali Law, which grants contractual protection to boxers, to be extended to MMA. This expansion of MMA was introduced as a bill in the House of Representatives by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., in 2017, but has since remained stuck in legislative limbo. The UFC has spent hundreds of thousands lobbying against the potential law.

In 2020, a federal judge said he would grant class certification in the antitrust case, making it a class action lawsuit that would allow more fighters to receive a share of what could be billions of dollars. damages. The judge, Richard Boulware, did not formalize the class certification, and the case looks set to continue for many years.

“The UFC has established a compensation structure that pays fighters less than 20% of revenue,” MMAFA founder Rob Maysey told ESPN. “The only way to determine which fighters are ‘supposed to get paid’ is to remove the contractual constraints imposed by the UFC and bring real competition to the market for fighting services.”

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