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January 29, 2020; Miami, FL, USA; Jake Paul steps on the scale to weigh in for his Matchroom Boxing USA bout at The Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami, FL. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

Theory: Fighter Pay Is Being Tackled Behind The Scenes By Fighters

Much has been said on the issue with fighter pay and the UFC. Recently, fighters have been calling out about fighter pay and getting their fair share. In other professional sports, like the NFL, the revenue split is upwards of 50% between the athletes and everything else. But with Endeavor going public, light has been shown on how little of a percentage the athletes get: 16-19%. Recently fighters have been speaking out about the lack of pay they get and how it could help if they’re paid more. I am under the belief that this isn’t coincidence and that there is a plot behind all this talk of fighter pay.

Fighter Pay: Rising Issue

Fighter pay has always been a talk around the UFC. But recently, there has been more. At UFC Vegas 34, Jared Cannonier said in his post fight interview, “I’m broke.” Bea Malecki has said on her Instagram that she’s not well off. Sarah Alpar started a GoFundMe to help pay for her fight camp and just survive. Miesha Tate said 98% of her $200,000 fight purse was gone. The UFC has their stars and constantly boast about how the revenue is the best it’s ever been, how the deals being made are the best they’ve ever had, and so on. This is leading to calls for a fair playing field and, as Jack Slack has been calling on for years, to unionize.

 

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Except the UFC has been very anti-union. Leslie Smith was let go by the UFC after expressing very pro-union sentiment. While the company didn’t say it, it was clear as day that it was retaliation for her stance on a fighter’s union.

Fighter pay has been coming up a lot recently and in a very public way. However, ever since Jake Paul started taking aim at Dana White for not paying his athletes their fair share, it’s been ramping up more and more. Paul is polarizing to say the least. But, almost universally, fans and fighters have rallied behind him about his sentiments on Dana White and fighter pay. I’m not saying Jake Paul is behind this effort to bring forth fair pay, but he is a large voice in it.

Pure Speculation but…..

I’m simply speculating here, but I don’t believe that the recent fighter pay talk is a coincidence by any means. I think there is an effort being made to bring more attention to it. Am I saying the fighters are faking their pleas for financial help? Not at all. But someone is encouraging them to talk about it publicly. After seeing Leslie Smith canned, the fighters received the message from the UFC.

But the issue is, the UFC isn’t keeping around the good fighters who stay in line, even. Fighters like Demian Maia, Jimmie Rivera and more are being cut not because of them not belonging in the UFC, but because they call for a high price tag. They can use the Contender Series fighters and pay them $10k/$10k to fill out the fight card and have more top heavy bouts and make the same money with the ESPN deal. As long as they put 32 events on ESPN+ every year, they get paid the same.

These fighters cannot speak out about fighter pay and directly talk about a union. So they’re talking about it behind the scenes and banking on media to cover it, which they do. Google “UFC fighter pay” and you’ll see articles from Malecki, Cannonier, and Alpar as well as names like Luke Rockhold, Cheyanne Buys, Jorge Masvidal and more talk about the topic. They cannot say anything about a union, but the media can.

The fight for fighter pay is just ramping up. The UFC will be under a microscope with the antitrust lawsuit gaining more momentum. Look for this fight to get bigger and uglier as the nexus event draws near. There will be a paradigm shift in how MMA and it’s politics work. Whether it be the Ali Act or a sanctioning body, something is going to change. The market will open up. Fighters will be heard and the issue of fighter pay will be addressed, for the good or the bad.

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