After UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo recent complained about what he was earning, UFC President Dana White said that his champions are really like business partners and part of the onus is on the ones unhappy with their pay to promote their fights harder.
"Everyone needs to make more money," said White when asked about Aldo's pay by Bas Rutten on Friday night's Inside MMA television show. "A guy like Jose Aldo, he's the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world for two rounds, and then he starts to slide off. Here's the reality. Our champions are our pay-per-view partners. How many pay-per-views you sell, how much you sell, you get a piece of the action."
White said that the lighter weight champions as a general rule don't make as much as the heavier weight champions because people aren't buying the shows they headline as much. In UFC history, with the exception of B.J. Penn, no fighter under 170 pounds has been a top tier drawing card on pay-per-view, although Urijah Faber was a strong television ratings draw in his WEC championship days.
"Yeah, they don't sell as much as the bigger guys and a guy like Jose Aldo has the talent and the ability to be a big star. It's up to a guy like Jose Aldo to make people care and want to watch your fights."
With the big changes that went down this week in Bellator, White's first comment on the replacing of Bjorn Rebney with Scott Coker was anything but derisive.
"Not only do I know Scott Coker, but I know the guys in Spike," he said. "It's a much better fit than Bjork was."
When asked about the claim by light heavyweight champion Jon Jones that he used bullying tactics to try and get him to sign to face Alexander Gustafsson, White defended it saying that is what his job is, to ultimately put together the fights that people want to see.
"We sit down and try to make everybody happy," he said about negotiations with champions over title fights. "This isn't boxing. They tried to make Floyd and Manny seven years ago and still haven't made it. I had a real stupid article by a real stupid journalist where he was talking about how I get whatever I want and he called me a czar. That's my job, to put on fights people want to see. If an overwhelming number of people don't want to see Jones-Gustafsson, then I probably wouldn't want to make it."
He also said he doesn't believe MMA has a PED problem even with the recent publicity regarding failed tests by Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen (whose failure was not for a PED but drugs that would be used to get off TRT) and Wanderlei Silva avoiding a test, which his lawyer claimed was because he feared he would test positive for a diuretic.
"You're basically ruined," he said about those who test positive. "Chael Sonnen had to retire. You know how much money he could have made in MMA and UFC?"
He also felt things don't look good for Silva.
"I'm pretty confident they're going to bury him deep. I don't know what else you could do to him, other than stone them and beat them with sticks. Financially, they'll be destroyed with sponsors, and their reputation goes if they fail."
During the show White was hit with an interesting challenge for a superfight as welterweight champion Johny Hendricks said he'd be willing to move up to 185 to face Chris Weidman. Hendricks prefaced the request by saying he wasn't asking about now, but if both he and Weidman were to win their next three or four fights. Even then, White dismissed that idea without much thought.
"I don't know about three or four fights," he told Hendricks. "You are in a very nasty division packed with talent from No. 1 to No. 13. You have a lot of housework to do before you clean out the division and talk about Chris Weidman.
Hendricks said he was more being hypothetical and White responded, "Hypothetically, if No. 5 through No. 13 quit, maybe we can do you and Chris Weidman."
The company's international expansion if the next thing on White's agenda, as he's working this week on opening up in China, just after ONE FC, based in Singapore, announced that it would be running four live events in China over the rest of this year and ten next year. UFC has run a few events in Macau, and will return there on Aug. 23 for a show headlined by Cung Le vs. Michael Bisping.
"Nothing is easy," he said about navigating the market in China. "As you go into these other counties with different rules and different governments, it's very challenging. You know us. We're committed. We keep chipping away. I'm flying to China. I'm flying to Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo, and coming home on Thursday. We've been cultivating fighters (in China) and working on what's next."
One market he seemed excited about was Mexico, thinking it's going to get big once Televisa airs TUF Latin America in the fall.
"We just wrapped up TUF Mexico," he said. "We couldn't be more excited. This season is awesome. If this season doesn't make people go crazy in Mexico, nothing will."