UFC President Dana White recently tried to dismiss criticism surrounding the contracts in place for UFC 249 on May 9; specifically, his ability to withhold fight purses for those athletes who publicly criticize the promotion’s safety measures.
“They were required to sign a document which says they can lose their whole purse and bonuses if they say anything negative about the COVID protocols,” Showtime Sports Executive Stephen Espinoza wrote on Twitter.
Espinoza is the “weasel” who worked side-by-side with UFC brass for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor boxing match in late 2017 and seems to have an uncanny ability of triggering White at every turn, dating back to the days of Strikeforce.
“That’s not true,” White said about the contract claims (via MMA Fighting). “First of all, there’s something in the contract for disparagement. There’s a disparagement clause in there that’s in all of our contracts. Isn’t that creepy little fucker a lawyer? Isn’t that creepy little fucking goofball a lawyer?”
New York Times was one of several media outlets to publish the contract report.
“Does he not know what disparagement means? If you disparage the company,” White continued. “I’m not even a fucking lawyer, and I know the answer to that question. It’s disparagement. It would be like if you came out and said, ‘They never tested me, the UFC never tested me for the coronavirus.’ But if you came out and had something critical to say about the testing that was true, that wouldn’t be disparagement.”
UFC tested its fighters (as well as production staff and attending media) for coronavirus using swab and antibody exams. Midway through the week, middleweight submission specialist Ronaldo Souza and two of his cornermen returned positive for COVID-19 and were promptly removed from the card.
Both “Jacare” and opponent Uriah Hall are expected to be paid their “show” purse.