Last weekend at UFC Vegas 24, we were once again reminded that anything can (and often does) happen in mixed martial arts (MMA). A highly anticipated co-main fight between Jeremy Stephens and Drakkar Klose was called off on fight day because of a shove from “Lil’ Heathen” the day before during weigh-ins.
Yes, what looked like a typical macho push from Stephens ended up seriously injuring Klose: a letter from doctors (read it) confirmed he’d received whiplash and a concussion from the incident.
For those watching, it was just another reminder of how dangerous weight cutting is, and how fighters really shouldn’t be engaging in these kind of antics during staredowns. But there’s certainly no sign of a punishment incoming from UFC President, Dana White, who blamed the incident not on Jeremy Stephens, but UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby, who was on hand to run the weigh-ins.
Jeremy Stephen’s just sent Drakkar Klose across the stage at weigh ins . They fight tomorrow! #UFCVegas24 pic.twitter.com/ct1buv4bos— Current MMA (@current_mma) April 16, 2021
Okay, well if UFC isn’t going to stop fighters from injuring each other prior to fighting, at least can it commit to paying a fighter when freak injuries like this occur? You’d think it would be a given that Klose would be paid his show purse for showing up and making weight. But, it took several days and a “back-and-forth’ before UFC finally confirmed he’d get any money at all.
After some back and forth, the UFC has agreed to pay @drakkarklose his show money following last week’s incident where he couldn’t fight Jeremy Stephens on Saturday after he was pushed at the weigh-ins, I’m told. No win bonus, just show, per sources.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 21, 2021
You’d think in a day and age where UFC is the crown jewel in its owner Endeavor’s effort to launch a $10 billion IPO, rostered fighters would be guaranteed their show money when they ... you know ... show up. Nevermind when they get assaulted and injured during an official pre-fight event. But, that’s not how their contracts are structured and it’s definitely not how it works out a lot in real life.
This year there have been many instances where fighters have braved training during a pandemic and made it to fight night, only for someone to fall out over COVID-19 protocols. Sometimes fighters get paid their show money, sometimes they don’t. There is absolutely no transparency nor consistency and we imagine any complaints that make it out into the press put a mark against the fighter who’s being “trouble.”
Klose suffered an injury through no fault of his own, was robbed of his opportunity to earn his win bonus, and isn’t fighting again any time soon because of his concussion. If there really needed to be a “back-and-forth” between Klose’s team and UFC to get paid, it’s scandalous and bush league ... and very in line with UFC’s history of inconsistently paying out show money when fights fall out last minute.
For complete UFC Vegas 24 results and play-by-play click here.