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Curtis Blaydes questions UFC’s ‘embarrassing’ fighter pay: ‘The money is there’

UFC Fight Night Blaydes v dos Santos: Open Workouts Photo by Grant Halverson/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Curtis Blaydes is joining his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) peers in the push for better financial compensation. The surging heavyweight contender appreciates everything the promotion has done to return to action these past few months, but “Razor” knows there’s more money to be shared.

Blaydes, who meets Alexander Volkov in the main event at UFC on ESPN 11 later tonight (Sat., June 20, 2020) live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the most recent fighter to speak out about UFC’s monetary stranglehold on its athletes. After hearing what Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal, and even Sean O’Malley had to say about reaping more benefits from the growing MMA juggernaut, Blaydes offered his own insight earlier this week, suggesting that professional fighters should be making much more for their expertise.

“I’m very proud of the sacrifices they are making and I know that they are putting their careers and paychecks in jeopardy,” Blaydes told CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast on Wednesday. “I respect what they are doing because we need big names to speak up.

“We do deserve more money. I’m not even trying to be greedy. We are on ESPN now. That is supposed to mean something. We should be able to live the lives of other professional athletes in hockey, baseball, NFL and NBA. I’m not saying we need to make $20 million a fight but top guys like Jon Jones, Jorge, McGregor and those other top guys, they should be making a minimum of $5 million per fight. That should cause a trickle down effect.”

While Blaydes isn’t the most popular fighter in UFC the 29-year-old veteran is one of the best heavyweights on the roster. He has fought tooth-and-nail to gain respect in the weight class and move his way up the division ladder since his debut in 2016, eventually earning his spot as a main event attraction.

Unlike Blaydes, many other fighters on the UFC roster have struggled to break out. They are stuck competing for limited financial stability while some even have to keep jobs outside of the cage.

“I don’t like seeing guys go into a war against one another where both guys are amazing and are fighting for $12,000 [to show] and $12,000 [to win],” Blaydes said. “It’s a little embarrassing. These are top athletes and a lot of them have to have [other] jobs still. If you want this sport to grow, you need to provide more amenities for us as far as training. You can’t have guys who are ranked who have to drive for Uber. That’s embarrassing.”

From the UFC’s standpoint, they have over 500 fighters to pay and have shouldered the financial burden of getting the promotion back on track during a global pandemic. That certainly counts for something as all other major sports organizations are still planning their respective comebacks, but Blaydes is tired of the excuses. The heavyweight contender wants better answers and a good reason why UFC isn’t sharing more of its revenue, which is done much better among other major sports entities.

“I don’t want to hear all those excuses, the money is there,” Blaydes said. “I don’t want to hear the excuses. Even if you just bumped us up to like 29% of revenue, that would be a giant raise for guys. I don’t want to hear that. If you don’t want to pay us, just say you don’t want to give us the money. Just say that and don’t make excuses like, ‘I don’t know where it’s going to come from.’ It’s like, bro, don’t do that. Don’t disrespect our intelligence like that. We are worth more. If you don’t want to pay us, just say that and we can make our own informed decisions.

“It’s like you trying to pee on us and calling it rain like we’re dumb. I know we get hit in the head a lot but we are not dumb.” will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 11 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.

For more UFC on ESPN 11 fight card news click here.

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