‘Overpaid’ boxers blasted by UFC boss

A rising tide raises all boats but UFC boss Dana White isn’t banking on it.

As the promotion’s heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou moves forward with plans to take on heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury in a crossover bout, the world’s premier MMA company has repeatedly come under scrutiny over recent years for its pay structure which sees a split of roughly 80/20 (20 percent to fighters).

Ngannou is the latest star of the UFC to express discontent over his pay status but he’s not the first. With the big money on offer from boxing and with former champions like Tyron Woodley making more to box Jake Paul than he made in his entire UFC career, the company will always have the issue of fighter pay hanging over his head.

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Yet White doesn’t seem too concerned about it potentially becoming problematic. The UFC president believes the promotion’s success comes down to making it a viable media company that won’t be bogged down by offering monster salaries to fighters.

Speaking on The Pivot Podcast, the UFC president took aim at the boxing model and the highest earning stars in that sport, saying they are “f—ing overpaid”.

“There’s always gonna be head butting,” White said. “Do you make enough money? Do you? I want to meet that guy that goes, ‘Oh, I’m good. I make plenty of money. I don’t need another dime.’ You’re never going to meet that guy.

“Everybody wants more money. And one of the big problems with boxing too, is that all those f—ing guys are overpaid, and every time they put on a fight, it’s a going-out-of-business sale. We ‘re just trying to get as much f—ing money as we can from you guys, and then we’re out of here.

“You can’t build a league like that. You can’t build a sport. You can’t have 750 fighters under contract, making money, feeding their families every year, with that kind of mentality. It doesn’t work. You have to run a business.”

There’s no doubting the UFC’s success, with the company boasting financial growth in recent years yet the amount split with fighters has roughly stayed the same. In comparison to most sports leagues, which often divide the money 50-50 with their athletes, the UFC offers a different option to its star performers.

“What we did is we built a business model where, if you’re the champion, you share in the pay-per-view revenue,” White added. “If you’re the guy headlining the card, or there’s been some special occasions where we know you’re bringing in the money, too, and you’re a big draw so you, too, get to share in the pay-per -view revenue.You eat what you kill.

“The truth is, you get some of these guys that — you can walk in and say, ‘I want $30 million dollars.’ OK, based on what? I do too. Give me $30 million. We all want $30 million, but based on what? And you’re never going to have the guys on the other side worrying about the business of the sport.

“Because this isn’t a team sport. … In this sport here, it’s about me. ‘I’m the biggest f—ing star here. I knocked out 30 people. I did this, I did that. I want as much money as I can get, and I really don’t give a s— about anybody else, including you, the boss that runs the business. ‘

“So you have to maintain some sort of control over that type of stuff to run a real business, because at the end of the day, the reason this business has been this rocket ship of success is because not only have we built a solid [business] where these fighters are all making lots of money and doing well — even guys that are journeymen [are doing well].”

White insists fighters are fairly compensated for their services, however that hasn’t stopped the promotion’s biggest names looking to make a buck in boxing, with Ngannou aiming for his fight with Fury to take place after his contract expires in December, and welterweight champion Kamaru Usman calling for a boxing bout with Canelo Alavarez.

White and the UFC were all in when Conor McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather in the squared circle in 2017, but the UFC boss has so far rejected calls for Usman to fight Canelo.

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