UFC President Dana White has hit out at criticism of fighters’ pay, insisting that a large portion of boxers are “overpaid”.
The subject of increased fighter pay has been a major talking point in the promotion of mixed martial arts for several years – with a number of big names expressing their displeasure.
But it was recently brought to the attention of the masses by YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul – who publicly derided the promotion for their entry-level salaries.
UFC supremo White hasn’t been shy about addressing the issue, which he blames in part on excessively large purses handed out by boxing promoters.
During an appearance on The Pivotal PodcastWhite said: “There will always be headbutts.
“Are you making enough money? Do you? I want to meet this guy who says, ‘Oh, I’m fine. I earn a lot of money. I don’t need a penny more.
“You will never meet this guy. It will never happen. Everyone wants more money.
“And one of the big problems with boxing too is that all these fuckin’ dudes are overpaid, and every time they fight it’s a sellout.
“We’re just trying to get as much money as we can from you guys and then we’ll get through this. We’ll see you in three years.”
White, along with brothers Fertitta Frank and Lorenzo, turned the UFC into a global entity worth a staggering £3.1bn – the fee for which WME-IMG bought the promotion from Zuffa in the summer 2016.
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And he thinks the fight league, and even the sport itself, wouldn’t be where it is today if it followed boxing’s lead.
He continued: “You can’t build a league like that. You cannot build a sport.
“You can’t have 750 fighters under contract, making money, feeding their families every year, with that kind of mentality. It doesn’t work. You have to run a business.”
UFC fighters currently pocket 20% of the annual revenue generated by the promotion, but White insists the company’s incentive compensation structure gives them the opportunity to earn big bucks.
He said: “What we’ve done, we’ve built a business model where if you’re the champion, you split the pay-per-view revenue.
“If you’re the headlining guy on the card, or if there’s been any special occasions where we know you’re also bringing cash, and you’re a big draw, you too can share pay-per-view revenue You eat what you kill.
“The truth is, you get some of these guys who – you can come in and say, ‘I want $30 million’. OK, based on what? Me too.
“Give me $30 million. We all want $30 million, but on what?
“And you’ll never have the guys on the other side worrying about the business of sport.
“Because it’s not a team sport. … In this sport here, it’s about me. ‘I’m the biggest star here. I knocked out 30 people.
“I did this, I did that. I want as much money as possible, and I really don’t give anything to anyone else, including you, the boss who runs the business. Who cares, this whole thing is about me.
“So you have to maintain some kind of control over those kinds of things to run a real business.
“Because at the end of the day, the reason this company has been this rocket of success is that not only have we built a strong [business] where these fighters all make big money and do well – even the guys who are mates [are doing well].”