We’re one week removed from Jake Paul’s return to the boxing ring (Sun., Aug. 29, 2021) to face former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight roost ruler, Tyron Woodley. And while we feel like a lot of y’alls on the mixed martial arts (MMA) side are sick and tired of Paul and his hijinks, we still have to give him some credit for continuing to bang the drum for fighter pay.
In fact, not only is he raising the issue of fighter pay on the regular (and specifically UFC pay), he went and made sure everyone on the Paul vs. Woodley undercard were getting a fair share of the money that will be made from the upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) event.
“It’s something I’m bullish on and something that needs to change,” Paul said in a 30-minute interview with MMA Fighting. “For my fight, when we were building out the undercard, I was like, ‘We need to make sure this fight, these fighters, every single person on this card gets paid the most they ever got paid to fight.’ I just want to spread the wealth and be about my words and put action behind my words and be the change instead of just talking about the change.”
As far as UFC goes, Paul sees himself as a voice for the fighters who can’t speak up due to fear of blowback.
“But look: the UFC fighters can’t talk about it,” he said. “They can’t advocate for fighter pay because Dana White will just shunt them, and a lot of the times it’s the same thing with some of these boxing promoters who sign young stars and lock them up into super long contracts. But I see how hard fighting is, I see how hard these fighters work, and the fact that it’s so skewed versus any other sport and it’s the most dangerous sport out of all of them? There needs to be a change there and I’m actually starting to affect Dana White’s business.”
UFC has always taken the lion’s share of the money made (fighter pay is stuck below 20 percent of revenue compared to other major league sports at 50 percent), and it feels grosser now than ever with UFC parent company Endeavor announcing record-breaking profits and big stock paydays for (some) execs. Meanwhile, many UFC fighters from entry level athletes to main eventers are barely scraping by.
“Those are big wig guys with lots of power who are very greedy and they’ll do anything to get to the top, they have gotten to the top but they want more, they always want more,” Paul said. “That’s how these billionaire sharks are. They will kill and eat everyone in their path to put more money into their bank accounts. So I’m in his head, I’m affecting his pockets, and he doesn’t like that.”
As for whether Paul will ever try to directly get into the MMA game, perhaps with MMA fights on a future undercard?
“For sure, for sure,” Paul said. “I think that’s the future of fighting. Maybe mixing the MMA and boxing all into one night. ... I’m partnered with Showtime and Stephen Espinoza. We can throw a sick Bellator fight or something. There’s lots of ways to get creative there.”
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