Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White was a special guest on The Pivot Podcast, hosted by former NFL players Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder, and Fred Taylor. In addition to his on-field exploits, Clark was also a player representative for the Pittsburgh Steelers who went on to join the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) in May 2014.
That’s probably why Twitter took him to task for playing cheerleader when White flexed his financial muscle, justifying the uneven fighter pay in mixed martial arts (MMA) while also criticizing boxing promoters for letting fight purses balloon to astronomical heights. By his own admission, UFC is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 billion with White taking home more than $350 million over a five-year period.
Here’s a sample of White’s critique:
“One of the big problems with boxing, too, is that all those fucking guys are overpaid,” White said. “And every time they put on a fight, it’s a ‘going out of business’ sale. You know what I mean? ‘We’re just trying to get as much fucking money as we can from you guys and then we’re outta here, see you in three years.’ You can’t build a league like that, you can’t build a sport. You can’t have 750 fighters under contract making money, feeding their families every year with that kind of mentality. It doesn’t work, you have to run a business.”
Clark’s contribution to the dialogue was to chuckle and say “Right!”
“So what we did was, we built a business model where if you’re the champion, you share in the pay-per-view revenue,” White continued. “If you’re the guy headlining the card, there’s been some special occasions where we know you’re bringing in the money too, you’re a big draw, so you too get to share in the pay-per-view revenue. You eat what you kill. And the truth is, you get some of these guys ... you can walk in and say ‘I want $30 million.’ Based on what? I do too! Give me fucking $30 million. You’re never gonna have the guys on the other side worrying about the business of the sport.”
Clark agreed with White and even suggested he too was underpaid, opening the social media floodgates. I’m sure it doesn’t help that in 2022 there are professional UFC fighters who still only bank $10,000 per fight.
Here’s a sample:
-Got to say, this comes across as pretty crappy questioning from a former NFLPA executive committee member.
-Unless you’re asking why other leagues can afford 50/50 revenue splits with the athletes but the UFC can only do 18%, this is a bullshit interview that only serves as UFC public relations.
-Embarrassing you would post this.
-Ryan you were a pro athlete, if anyone should understand the pain of MMA fighters in this (and a lot of them aren’t earning 1/50th of what you did as a football player) it’s you. But working for ESPN you’re just gonna be a tool for the company’s bottom dollar I assume.
-This is blatant UFC PR. You of all people should know why a revenue split of 80/20 is not indicative of even a decent pay structure. You’re a fraud for this and I hope you never forger that.
Clark is getting absolutely roasted in the comments and rightfully so.... Clark sitting their like a total chucklehead, gobbling up whatever DW is serving... Shame on him.... https://t.co/zCfi3fafOD— Robert Joyner (@robnashville) May 3, 2022
Clark remains unfazed by the backlash:
“This is the business model fighters decide to fight under,” Clark told his Twitter critics. “As I in the PA did as well. I spoke up, I fought, and I worked to make it better. In the end what we negotiated was the end. So, nah I’m not embarrassed. Get him on your platform and you can do whatever you want. I’m not tripping UFC fighters. I also sat down with Julianna Pena and she had no issues with pay or Dana. We asked.”
Crowder was equally sycophantic in his evaluation.
“We went to the UFC compound and sat down with Dana White today on The Pivot Podcast,” Crowder gushed. “My man looks, walks, talks and smells like money. How did he do it? His journey is crazy but he never wavered on his goals.”