In case you were wondering why there will never be a union in MMA, look no further than the welterweight division in UFC, where one top contender openly celebrates his salary while another top contender claims the promotion is ripping him off.
Gilbert Burns is scheduled to fight 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman in the upcoming UFC 251 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, which takes place on July 11 in Abu Dhabi. An opportunity he landed after matchmakers failed to come to terms with Jorge Masvidal.
“They offered me a great amount of money,” Burns told MMA Fighting. “More money than a lot of guys get fighting for the title. I’m happy for my situation. I’m making fair money for a title shot. I have a new contract, more money and being the champion I’m going to have everything the champion has and I’m happy with my contract right now.”
Masvidal insists Burns got ripped off.
“Of course, he took the lowest money possible to fight for a title,” Masvidal said on his YouTube channel. “He can do whatever he wants with his time and his skill set, and so can I. I want to get paid for mine. I don’t have nothing negative or positive to say about the fight that’s coming up. I don’t care. I’m just worried about me.”
Masvidal isn't the only fighter unhappy with his current pay. Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones recently vacated his title and returned to the sidelines after UFC failed to offer him any incentives for a Francis Ngannou bout in the heavyweight division.
“I understand Masvidal’s side, he wants more money,” Burns said. “But I think it all comes down to management. If you just signed a deal, how come you going to ask for a new deal? It just doesn’t make sense. I think it’s all in the negotiations. I think there’s a better way to get those deals done than just complain.”
UFC is not a sport, it’s a brand, and the leverage will always remain with the promotion. Helping its cause is the fact that every MMA fighter in the world is trying to work their way into the Octagon, so it remains a buyer’s market.