01 Jan Jorge Masvidal claims UFC wants him to take less money for title fight, Dana White responds
Jorge Masvidal has a lot of questions about the UFC’s finances.
The first and only “BMF” champion has been at odds with the promotion over the past few days after first asking to be released from his contract and now questioning the revenue that fighters are being paid.
According to Masvidal, he was in talks with the UFC for a showdown with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, but the numbers just weren’t adding up based on the offer that was being made.
“Me and the UFC have been talking since the end of December about the next couple fights,” Masvidal explained on ESPN. “Numerous ideas got tossed around the room, several times back and forth. I said yes to everybody they offered me. I said yes, I will compete and fight against anybody you want.
“When it came to the numbers and a couple times we had differences, a couple other fights just fell through and this current fight, they’re just not wanting to play ball at all. They want me to take less money than I did on my last fight but I’m fighting for a world championship. A lot of things just don’t add up.”
Masvidal also raised concerns about the bigger picture when it came to the revenue earned by the UFC versus the money being paid out to the athletes. While leagues like the NFL and NBA split revenue with athletes at almost an equal 50 percent split, fighters in the UFC are typically paid far less. The wage share for UFC athletes has varied over the years, but it’s estimated to have been in a range between 16 to 22 percent over the past decade.
“Basically, it’s not that I’m asking for more money,” Masvidal said. “It’s I’m asking for a bigger revenue share for what we bring in. I’ve got a lot of questions and one of them is NBA, NHL, baseball, they make 50 percent of what the organization, of what the players bring in, I think it’s 47 percent. Mine is 18 percent.
“I have these questions in my mind. Like why so much to put the cage up cost so much, to set up? What is so much? I want these questions answered.”
In response, White didn’t address Masvidal’s claims that the fighters were only being paid 18 percent of the UFC’s total revenue. But he did take aim at the contract he negotiated with the welterweight contender prior to his fight with Diaz last year.
“Being the financial wizard that he is, I’m assuming his numbers are correct,” White said when asked to respond at Saturday’s UFC 250 post-event press conference. “Here’s the thing with Masvidal — we just signed a new deal with Masvidal. Masvidal just signed a new eight-fight deal. He’s got seven fights left on his deal. My people were working with him and trying to get a deal done with him when he already has a deal. Jon Jones has like seven fights left on his deal. He just signed a new deal less than a year ago.
“So guys, you can say whatever you want, I have a deal. We just did a deal with both guys. This isn’t one of those scenarios where they’ve got some three-year-old deal and it’s like ‘oh man, this was three years ago, I’m in a much different place.’ This was months ago.”
For what it’s worth, Masvidal doesn’t necessarily hold any ill will toward White, because both of them are looking out for their own bottom line. His problem is that he believes he has finally started to pull back the curtain on the UFC’s finances, and he’s not enjoying the secrets that he’s discovered.
“I respect Dana as a businessman,” Masvidal said. “I know what he is. His business is to protect the UFC and whoever the new owners are now and keep the fighters in check. So I don’t have nothing bad to say about him. He does his job great.
“Dana has to look out for his pockets in the UFC, and I’ve got to look out for the future of my family and such.”
Cooler heads may eventually prevail in these negotiations, but White doesn’t seem too worried about what happens if Masvidal, Jon Jones, Conor McGregor or any other UFC fighter decides to hold out for more money or just walk away from the sport for good.
“The beautiful thing about this sport is — you don’t have to fight,” White said. “This isn’t the NBA or the NFL where you better be at practice, you better show up. You don’t have to do anything here. If these guys want to sit out right now and retire or if anyone feels uncomfortable in any way shape or form with what’s going on, you don’t have to fight. It is all good.
“So if that’s what Conor’s feeling right now, Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal, I feel you. It’s not like I’m going ‘holy sh*t, this is crazy, this is nuts.’ Nothing is crazy and nuts right now because everything is crazy and nuts right now. On a certain level, I totally understand it and get it.”