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Ronda Rousey on fighter pay: 'I think that they should get paid more than the ring girls'

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Calif. -- Ronda Rousey is completely satisfied with how much she's paid by the UFC. But there is one thing that bothers her about the hot issue of fighter compensation -- the perception that Octagon girls get paid more than some fighters.

"I think that they should get paid more than the ring girls," Rousey said Wednesday at a media day to promote UFC 184 at Glendale Fighting Club. "And I don't know if the ring girls get paid too much or the fighters don't get paid enough. But yeah. There's definitely a lot more in what the fighters do than what they do. So, I think that's one thing that's unfair."

It's unclear how much Octagon girls like Arianny Celeste make, but Rousey is not the first person to bring up this issue. UFC lightweight Nate Diaz mentioned it last year as well.

There was an antitrust lawsuit filed against the UFC in December that alleges the organization is an illegal monopoly and pays fighters unfairly. The suit, which lists former fighters like Cung Le and Jon Fitch as plaintiffs, says that fighters have no financial leverage as free agents, because the UFC has eliminated its biggest competitors.

Rousey, who defends her women's bantamweight title against Cat Zingano in the UFC 184 main event Feb. 28 in Los Angeles, disagrees with those accusations, saying the UFC's most significant rival is owned by a huge media conglomerate.

"No, I don't think the UFC is a monopoly at all," Rousey said. "Viacom owns Bellator and they have way more money than the UFC does."

As for her own pay, Rousey is happy. That shouldn't come as a surprise since she's one of the biggest stars in the UFC and has either headlined or co-headlined every show she has been on. All of them have been pay-per-views. The UFC is actually a sponsor of Rousey and she also just landed an endorsement deal with UFC apparel partner Reebok. In addition to all that, Rousey has parlayed her fighting career into roles in Hollywood blockbuster movies.

"I have a comparison with how I was treated as an Olympian to how I'm treated as a UFC fighter and I always feel like I'm just so lucky to work with a company that I feel like actually cares," said Rousey, who won the bronze medal in judo at 2008 games. "There's times where they give me more than they're contractually obligated to or more than I even expect. That's why I always trust them so much. Even if they didn't ever give me anything extra, I would still be happy, because you know what I made as an Olympian? Nothing. It cost me money."

Rousey, 28, said she doesn't need that much money anyway. She never intended to get rich doing MMA.

"I got my first house, I got a car, what else do I need?" Rousey said. "I don't need a private island. My house is paid off. My car is paid off. I just need to buy dog food and pay my taxes and that's pretty much it. I have no need to want. The only thing I want to do now is fight and they made that possible for me and I'm eternally grateful."

Obviously, there are fighters who have not shared the same experiences, competitors who make just $8,000 to show up for a bout. But Rousey said she can't really speak for them, only herself -- as long as said athletes get a fatter check than Octagon girls, that is.

"I've always been very well taken care of," she said. "I'm always extremely happy with how I've been treated."

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