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Dana White Says Raising UFC Fighters' Pay is 'Never Gonna Happen While I'm Here'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVAugust 12, 2022

Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UFC fighters make a pittance relative to the promotion's revenue, and Dana White has no plans on changing that anytime soon.

The UFC president recently sat down with GQ and pushed back on any calls for him to raise fighter purses.

“Fighters always want to make more money,” White said (2:40 mark). “Boxing has absolutely been destroyed because of money and all the things that go on. It's never gonna happen while I’m here. Believe me, these guys get paid what they’re supposed to get paid. They eat what they kill. They get a percentage of the pay-per-view buys and the money is spread out amongst all the fighters.

"If you don't like it, there's a simple solution to this problem: Go start your own MMA organization. No barrier to entry. Knock yourself out. Pay 'em whatever you want to pay 'em. It's been done before. How's it worked out for other guys? Not well. Mind your business."

The UFC has historically paid fighters around 20 percent of the company's revenue. That pales in comparison to athletes in other sports leagues. NFL, NBA and NHL players all make between 48-50 percent of their sport's revenue. Major League Baseball has a less structured system and varies year-to-year, but it tends to be in a similar percentage range.

The UFC pay scale is most similar to that of WWE, which has also been accused of low-balling its employees.

As you may have guessed, there is one major difference between the four major men's professional sports leagues and UFC and WWE: Those leagues have unions. Neither UFC nor WWE fighters are unionized, meaning there is no overarching representative body ensuring they're paid properly.

Jake Paul, who has had a contentious relationship with White, has consistently criticized UFC for its pay scale of fighters and proposed starting a union earlier this year.

“I want to create a fighters union," Paul said on ESPN's First Take. "This is my goal, is to really impact the whole entire sport, both MMA and boxing, and leave an everlasting stamp. And I just so happen to not be beholden to anybody. A lot of these UFC fighters are beholden to Dana White. They can’t speak out against him. So I’m using my platform because I’m one of the very few people who actually can. I’ll say whatever, I’ll speak the truth. I’m just doing what my responsibility is as a fighter and as someone who cares about other fighters.”

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