Jorge Masvidal is occupying the promoter chair in life after fighting.
UFC 287 this past April 2023 marked the end of Masvidal’s 20-year career as a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) combatant. Losing a fourth consecutive outing when outpointed by Gilbert Burns en route to a unanimous decision loss, Masvidal, 38, decided it was finally time to hang up the gloves after what was his 52nd MMA fight (35-17).
Masvidal was a unique case of hitting superstardom late in his career. An amazing three-fight run in 2019 made “Gamebred” one of the sport’s biggest names after scoring two highlight-reel knockouts against Darren Till and Ben Askren before winning the Baddest Motherf—ker (BMF) title over Nate Diaz. Now sitting in the promoter chair running his Gamebred Fighting Championship boxing and bare-knuckle MMA events, Masvidal has had time to reflect on fighter treatment in UFC.
“It’s an interesting situation with the UFC,” Masvidal said on BS w/ Jake Paul. “The pay’s gone up in some areas. In some areas, it’s not — I mean, I got nothing but good things to say about [UFC President] Dana [White]. The relationship wasn’t always the best in the beginning but I got nothing but good stuff to say because he’s allowed me to create so much money, so much publicity, marketing, all this stuff, and he’s helped me out tremendously. Me personally, I’m biased. So, I’m not the right person to ask because I’m like a Dana candidate.
“I’m also [about] paying fighters more,” he continued. “I know Dana’s running a business and he’s a great businessman so can he give out the checks we want as fighters? That’s like a business decision. I have always advocated throughout my career and even more now that I’m retired: more money for the fighters because it’s a f—king tough job. You shouldn’t be in the Top 10 having to f—king work at WalMart or something. If you’re in the Top 15, you should be set that you’re making enough money per fight whether you have sponsors or not that all your bills are covered.”
Masvidal’s last event took place this past month (May 5, 2023), featuring Roy Nelson vs. Dillon Cleckler in the main event of his fifth bare-knuckle MMA show. The event followed the big boxing show headlined by former UFC Lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, and boxing legend, Roy Jones Jr., which provided some pretty solid payouts. Other notable MMA names like Jose Aldo, Vitor Belfort, Jeremy Stephens, and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza also boxed on the card. Masvidal teased leading up to his last event that his upcoming show that’s yet to be announced will be even bigger than what’s already been put out.
Overall, Masvidal sees the positives to what UFC’s business model has done for the combat sports world.
“When we hear that guys have to have a part-time job while they’re fighting, there’s lopsidedness there,” Masvidal said. “There’s also a lot of upside to it because a lot of people don’t talk about this ... in boxing, you don’t get paid s—t until your 30th professional fight. [Paul’s] case is different. He came with this massive amount of followers, but every other boxer, the only way they get famous is by fighting. They don’t get paid s—t in the beginning. The UFC pays guys in the beginning great and in the mid-stage great. Where we need help in is in the upper gap that’s been throwing down for a minute. Those guys get a little bit overlooked with the pay. But with the beginning structures of it, the UFC takes care of guys really, really, really well. Like unbelievably well. Especially compared to boxing or any other promotion out there where they’re paying a guy 20/20 ($20,000 to fight and $20,000 to win), you will never get that on the regional scene.”