Chris Wade really enjoys calling the PFL home, but he can’t stay quiet any longer about the pay problems he’s facing in the promotion.
Ahead of his upcoming fight against Brendan Loughnane in the playoffs, the UFC veteran turned PFL contender detailed his issues and explained that his complaints actually reach back to 2020, when the promotion cancelled the season and released him from his previous contract.
“I just want to preface it by saying I’ve really enjoyed my time competing in the PFL and I’m thankful for the original opportunity I got coming out of another organization and jumping over, but the facts are the facts,” Wade told MMA Fighting. “Math is math.
“I’m not happy that I was a lightweight and I essentially got cut utilizing a pandemic clause during COVID that was an obscure [clause] at the bottom of a document, like it’s just put in there to completely protect the other side. That stung.”
According to Wade, his release didn’t permanently sever ties with the PFL, but instead when he was re-signed to the organization, his contract essentially started over.
Typically, fighters work on an escalating scale earning more money with each fight, with additional increases after each new contract signed. While the PFL operates under a slightly different system — with fighters competing in a regular season, a playoff format, and then competing for a $1 million prize in the finals — Wade says his compensation hasn’t matched his level of success with the promotion.
“I’m the top dog at 145,” Wade said. “I’m knocking people out, I’m doing what they ask of me, I’m promoting fights, and you’ve got some of these other guys, they’re making a lot of noise. They’re talking, but I don’t understand why they seem to be doing better than I’m doing [while they’re] laying on people, doing what they complained to me about at lightweight about not finishing fights.
“There’s a chip on my shoulder. I’m very aware of what’s going on and I’m very aware of what the other guys are earning. Aside from that carrot — the million dollar prize at the end — I think we deserve quite a bit more and there’s a lot of work to be done negotiating because it can’t stay this way.”
Wade’s biggest problem comes down to the pay he received during the regular season and then not receiving a bump up in salary when going into the playoffs.
He’ll actually be competing in his second consecutive PFL playoffs after finishing as the runner-up at featherweight in 2021, and as much as he hopes to take home the $1 million prize as champion, he still needs to provide for his family even if he only makes it to the finals again.
“Listen, I never have said one word about my regular season pay because I agreed to that and I took my chances and I bet on myself,” Wade said. “But I just don’t understand, and anyone I explain it to, how I can become the first seed again, score more points than I’ve ever scored before, run deep into a playoff format that has shrunk from an eight-man bracket, which was easier to get into, to a four-man bracket, which is more difficult to be in the upper echelon, and then to move on from the regular season but to go in reverse in compensation.
“That doesn’t make sense in any setting, in any sport, in any world. Unfortunately for the last two seasons, that’s something me and my family have faced.”
Salaries are rarely made publicly available these days due to the majority of athletic commissions no longer disclosing that information, but just recently the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission revealed fighter salaries for several PFL cards held in Atlanta.
In his second regular season bout, which culminated with Wade scoring a highlight-reel knockout, he took home $70,000, which was $35,000 to show and another $35,000 for the win. While that doesn’t account for what the fighters will earn in the playoffs, Wade was actually the second-lowest paid among the four fighters moving on deeper into the PFL season behind both Bubba Jenkins ($98,000) and his next opponent Brendan Loughnane ($170,000).
To be clear, Wade has no issue whatsoever that other fighters are earning more money — he just wants equal compensation for the same job, especially now that he’s competing in his second consecutive PFL playoffs.
“It’s like your back’s always up against the wall feeling,” Wade said. “You get that sense that you’re never doing enough. A minute-and-10-second knockout, highlight-reel, and then crickets after. I may as well laid on a guy and got a win, but that’s not how I’m competing anymore. I’ve got that edge on me that they’re looking for, that they want, and I’m not going to name anybody individually.
“I want every competitor, I want every one of my peers to do as well as they can. I root for them and I root for that. But if you start going through any of the names that you’ve heard, I don’t know who’s having more exciting finishes than me and beat two-time world champs and stuff like that. I think I’m just as deserving as those individuals based on performance.”
Wade did take issue with Loughnane in particular after they engaged in a back-and-forth war of words on social media over his problem about PFL pay, with the British-born featherweight saying “no one cares about you, they will replace you in a heartbeat.”
No one cares about you. They will replace you in a heartbeat https://t.co/1DZFz4aRLG— Brendan Loughnane (@BrendanMMA) July 5, 2022
That didn’t sit too well with Wade, who believes Loughnane is part of the bigger problem in the sport where fighters would rather tear each other down than help push for better pay across the board.
“I told him, I don’t respect you for you to be on here dogging something like that coming up instead of being with fighters saying everybody should be doing well,” Wade said. “I have no respect for you either.
“You’re the problem in the sport. You’re the reason we can’t get together and all do a little better, because you’re a patsy for them or for whoever it may be. There’s a lot of guys out there who get a little pat on the back like a good boy and they speak the company line.”
Wade hopes by bringing up this issue publicly that he’ll help institute a change, but more than anything he’s just done being silent when it comes to the money that he’s earning to provide for his family.
“Last year, I took it on the chin quietly,” Wade said. “I said to myself the million dollars is the target. But then you come up just short of it and you’re left holding what? You’re left holding not much.
“Unfortunately, it’s one of those situations where I hope something gets figured out sooner than later.”