In recent weeks, the biggest story in MMA has been the sudden emergence of well-known UFC fighters publicly voicing their displeasure with their current pay. Henry Cejudo retired from the sport, in part because of the money he was making; Jorge Masvidal asked for his release from the company because they wouldn’t pay him what he believes he’s worth; and Jon Jones has had an ongoing public battle with the UFC over their refusal to pay him to move up to heavyweight and they poor pay he received earlier in his career. All of this is to say that fighter pay has been at the top of everyone’s mind lately and now, UFC commentator Joe Rogan has weighed in.
Speaking about the topic on his podcast on Tuesday, Rogan opined about why fighter pay has become such a hot topic recently.
“Right now in particular, there is probably less money because there is no live gate, and that’s an extreme amount of money,” Rogan said. “But there’s also fighters that agree to certain deals. They agree to like, an 8-fight deal at X amount per fight, and then they become more popular and then they want to renegotiate their deal, and the UFC is like, ‘Look, we’re just trying to stay open. We’re not going to renegotiate anything. You can take it or you can leave it, but this is what it is.’ I think it’s a matter of that.
“Looking at it from the fighters’ perspective, fighters would certainly be better off if there was more competition. That’s always how it works. So whether it’s Bellator or ONE FC or all these different companies, the more of those there are, the more World Series of Fighting, Professional Fighting League, whatever the f*ck it’s called now, the more those rise, the better it is for everyone.”
The lack of competition in the MMA promotional space has been a sticky wicket for a number of years. The UFC is still embroiled in an antitrust lawsuit regarding this very matter, documents from which have revealed that fighters take home roughly 20 percent of the revenue generated by the UFC, which stands in stark contrast to revenue splits in other major American sports, usually around 50 percent. Jorge Masvidal specifically cited this disparity in his statements about fighter pay. But for Rogan, the bigger issue at the moment is the current global climate and the financial losses the UFC has had to take as a result of COVID-19.
“It’s not a monopoly in that you do have choices, but there’s one clear, top of the food chain choice. But it’s because they do it the best,” Rogan said. “They’re also the only ones that are having fights during this quarantine. The only people that are putting on any live sporting events, but they’re also part of a company in WME that’s hurting, really, really bad. So there’s not a lot of money to throw around. To keep the doors open, to keep people employed, a lot of money is missing. All these shows got cancelled, there’s all these audience members that aren’t gonna be there, that aren’t buying tickets, so it’s tricky. So this is why I think they’re complaining about fighter pay.”
There is likely some truth to Rogan’s suppositions. The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive effect on businesses the world over, in particular the UFC’s parent company, WME, who laid off, furloughed, or cut the pay of 20 percent of their employees last month. That being said, live gate revenue accounted for less than 12 percent of revenue for the UFC last year, and while that is not insignificant, Moody’s suggests that the UFC may be able to offset those losses by negotiating higher rights fees. Either way, those factors mean very little to the fighters who are looking out for their own interests and who believe, and Rogan agrees, they should be getting paid more.
“I think they should get paid more. I think everybody should get paid more,” Rogan said. “I think it’s a crazy way to make a living. I think you should get the most amount of money you can possibly get. But it’s also a business and I think that if they are struggling as much as I think they are - I don’t talk finances with them but I know that WME, the people who own it, are hurting, bad. They’re laying people off. Most businesses are hurting and all the entertainment businesses are f*cked. . . So what do they do? That’s what I think. But when it comes to me as a human that likes fighting, I know f*cking dangerous that sh*t is. You should get paid an incredibly generous amount of money to step into a cage fight for millions of people to see. “
Big mad. Dana White gets in heated debate over fighter pay after repeated complaints from Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal.
Everything is fine. Dana White fires back at Conor McGregor, claims he turned down short-notice fight at UFC 249.
Anticlimactic. Three title fights, Fight Island location announced for UFC 251 next month.
Hero. Nate Diaz trolls UFC 251 main event: ‘I get paid more than both of you,’ Usman responds.
Finally. Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier 3 set for UFC 252 on August 15.
Reaction to Fight Island.
Garbrant and O’Malley on TMZ.
Top finishes in the ONE featherweight division.
Fights Gone By. Discussing UFC 250 and the bantamweight division.
UFC Unfiltered. Interviews with Sean O’Malley, Aljamain Sterling, and Ian Heinisch.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
This is what’s wrong with people claiming they’re fighters settling for less cause they know they’re not worth shit you should’ve fought the next guy in line not the guy who would take less cause he’s told too that’s why no one will remember youguys— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) June 9, 2020
This isn’t a title fight pic.twitter.com/7GLJUJA45C
I get paid more than both of you together— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) June 9, 2020
+ FUCK REEBOK
Look this guy ♂️ ♂️ @NateDiaz209 3 fights in the last 4 years! I’m going to do my 3rd fight in less than 5 months in 2020! Enough said! Just a reminder this fight will be the Champion x N1 Contender! Just do me a favor don’t blink your get your and buy the PPV pic.twitter.com/hTtp7nKiQx— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) June 9, 2020
Another thing! U gotta say thanks to @TheNotoriousMMA his is the only reason u make money in your life Natan @NateDiaz209 pic.twitter.com/3oYWN4uLns— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) June 9, 2020
For those asking, yes I got offered the shot before Gilbert. We couldn't make it work this time. 2020 has been tough for me on this side of the world, as it has been for alot of people, but fuck it, you cant stop what is inevitable.— Leon 'Rocky' Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) June 9, 2020
The strap will be mine. Continue to stay safe everybody— Leon 'Rocky' Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) June 9, 2020
Al Iaquinta trying to get Jon Jones to lead.
Simply sitting out may not make much difference. The fighters have to be brought together. You have the platform and the power or bring a few more champions on board.— Al Iaquinta (@ALIAQUINTA) June 9, 2020
Gray Maynard on UFC pay.
Thats the conundrum. A. You need money, not many make enough to hold out for very long B. Youll still be locked in contract with them. Can’t fight anywhere else and they will continue to extend if you dont take the fight C. Not fun to deal with a pissed off company that owns you https://t.co/wwnB4YuTkW— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) June 10, 2020
Exactly. And when Dana says, “their independent contractors they don’t have to fight”, that’s what people think. Reality is we don’t fight with them, we can’t go anywhere else contractually. Getting Ali act passed would provide rules to change that and protect us as fighters https://t.co/MEaR8V9wow— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) June 10, 2020
No. Injuries that turn into long term is on our dime. They probably took care of Bispings medical expenses, usually do for their top athletes. Training injuries while your preparing for a fight are insured, it’s a $1500 or $2000 deductible. Only “training injuries”, nothing else https://t.co/xBVhKWlkoP— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) June 10, 2020
It's finally happening for real?! https://t.co/yuM4iKaII9— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) June 10, 2020
Never mind the main event, I’ll be making my PPV commentary debut. https://t.co/LmUZrdik8Z— michael (@bisping) June 9, 2020
Y’all better watch out!!! https://t.co/fbwQQc7Cnp pic.twitter.com/Fkd57Emxv3— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) June 9, 2020
Who would like to see this rematch?— Vitor Belfort (@vitorbelfort) June 10, 2020
Quem gostaria de ver essa revanche? pic.twitter.com/GaDr6BKoh5
Jim Miller (31-14) vs. Roosevelt Roberts (10-1); UFC Fight Night, June 20.
Luis Pena (8-2) vs. Khama Worthy (15-6); UFC Fight Night, June 27.
Kamaru Usman (16-1) vs. Gilbert Burns (19-3); UFC 251, July 11.
Alexander Volkanovski (21-1) vs. Max Holloway (21-5); UFC 251, July 11.
Petr Yan (14-1) vs. Jose Aldo (28-6); UFC 251, July 11.
Stipe Miocic (19-3) vs. Daniel Cormier (22-2); UFC 252, August 15.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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