UFC President Dana White on Tuesday launched into an expletive-laden rant when asked about his recent $250,000 cash gift to the Nelk Boys, blaming backlash over the gesture on the “scumbag MMA media.”
In an interview on the The Pat McAfee Show, White defended his birthday gift and fighter pay, accusing the media of using the former to attack him on the latter. The UFC exec repeated a talking point on UFC pay disclosed in public versus what’s actually paid in private.
“Let me set this record straight: First of all, all these people on the internet, go f*** yourself,” White said. “I spend my money however the f*** I want to spend my money. Mind your own f****** business, No. 1.
“No. 2, if you look at what Kyle and the Nelk Boys have done as far as Howler Head and a lot of other things that they’ve done, those kids have never asked me for anything, ever. Never asked me for anything, and they couldn’t be better people; Kyle has done so many things for me, and believe me, the $250,000 that I have him for his birthday does not cover the amount of things that that kid has done for me. So don’t count other people’s money, and mind your own f****** business.”
The Nelk Boys, led by pranksters Kyle Forgeard and Jesse Sebastiani, this past December gifted White a van branded by the Howler Head whiskey company in which he is an investor. The social media influencers also have repeatedly promoted the UFC brand and offered sponsorships.
White’s gift, a plastic-wrapped brick of cash to Forgeard, immediately drew criticism online from fans and fighters who indicated the gesture was in poor taste. Others pointed to the share of revenue the UFC pays to its fighters, a figure revealed by an ongoing anti-trust case against the fight promotion to be between 5 and 20 percent. The promotion’s corporate parent, Endeavor, has boasted record profits thanks to the continued success of the UFC, which boomed during the pandemic due to a shorter layoff in event promotion. Access to information on specific fighters’ pay, meanwhile, has decreased with several state athletic commissions refusing to release disclosed salaries.
Many rank-and-file UFC fighters have publicly begged for bonuses to be able to pay debt incurred from fight camps. In a 2020 survey conducted by The Athletic, 92.5 percent of fans surveyed said fighters were underpaid; 47 percent of fighters said their biggest payday was at or under $49,999. Others have defended the UFC’s pay structure and its rewards to those who seize opportunities through their own performance.
To the longtime promoter, the observers of his business are the ones starting the problem.
“A lot of this is driven by the scumbag MMA media,” White countered. “So what happens is, they act like there’s this massive safe here at the UFC offices that says, ‘Fighter pay’ on it, and I just go in there and grab whatever I want out of the fighter pay. No, you f****** pieces of s***, this is money that I actually have made over an entire career, and I will spend it however the f*** I want.”
One former UFC fighter suggested the formation of a union upon seeing the cash gift, which was pointed out by YouTube influencer turned boxer Jake Paul to be more than the disclosed pay of its flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo.
Paul, a longtime target of White, was the jumping off point for White’s rant on his treatment in the media. He ripped reporters for asking him about the possibility of Paul fighting in the UFC and the influencer’s repeated criticism of the promotion over pay.
White professed not to be bothered with ongoing questions about the UFC’s business practices. But he made it very clear that he has no intention of combating them with transparency.
“What drives them crazy is, they don’t know [about our business],” he said. “They don’t like the fact that they don’t know. They want to know f****** everything, like all these other sports, you find out – we’re already hearing what’s going on with the negotiations with the Boston Celtics and possibly [Kevin] Durant. I don’t tell these f****** people anything, ever. You know what they know? What I tell them, and I tell them nothing, because I can’t stand them, and I don’t trust them.”