clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Morning Report: Joe Rogan weighs in on the UFC fighter pay situation

Jorge Masvidal and Joe Rogan Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

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.

Fight Motion.

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.




Leon Edwards.

Al Iaquinta trying to get Jon Jones to lead.

Gray Maynard on UFC pay.


Stepping up.


Please, no.


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.



Whose side are you on?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    (290 votes)
  • 78%
    (1066 votes)
1356 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting