UFC president Dana White has often been accused of underpaying his fighters. Over the years, several fighters have publicly lashed out at White about not being compensated fairly by the promotion. These fighters have openly admitted to working low-paying dead-end jobs to finance their MMA training while still competing in the biggest MMA promotion.
A year ago when ESPN's Dan Le Batard questioned the UFC supremo regarding fighters getting low compensation, Dana White repudiated the criticism by saying that all UFC fighters are fairly compensated.
"I bet you wouldn't say fighters are underpaid if you knew what he [McGregor] made."
Nevertheless, the UFC not revealing fighter salaries has led to more questions about the company's pay structure. Although White has stated that the company has been doing unprecedented numbers even during the COVID-19 pandemic, many fighters are still left unsatisfied with their low wages.
We look at 3 UFC fighters who publicly criticized Dana White over not being paid enough.
#1 Jon Jones demands fair compensation from Dana White to make the leap to heavyweight
In multiple interviews leading up to UFC 260, Dana White had mentioned that Jon Jones would be next in line for a heavyweight title shot. Right after Francis Ngannou secured the heavyweight gold against Stipe Miocic in the main event, Jones sent out a tweet calling out the new champion while also stating his top priority - 'money'.
When a reporter informed Dana White of Jones' cryptic tweet, the UFC president ridiculed the former light-heavyweight champion and said he should consider moving to the 185-lbs division instead.
Refusing to give in to Jones' contract negotiations tactics, White stated that if Jones considers making his heavyweight debut in 2021, he should 'sound serious'.
This is not the first time Dana White and Jon Jones have publically locked horns about money. The two were up in arms against each other last year when White blamed Jones for demanding 'Deontay Wilder money' to continue fighting in the UFC. No fighter besides Conor McGregor has made such a preposterous amount for an outing in the promotion's history.
#2 Demetrious Johnson joins ONE FC for 'better opportunities'
Former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Demetrious Johnson was traded by the UFC for Ben Askren to Singaporean promotion ONE FC in 2018. 'Mighty Mouse', who was widely regarded as one of the best fighters in the world, criticised the UFC president for underpaying him at the time.
Despite holding the record for the most title defenses alongside Anderson Silva, Johnson claimed that he was never treated fairly by the UFC. Dana White had publically slammed the former champion in an interview with MMA Junkie, stating that Demetrious Johnson was refusing to fight T.J. Dillashaw and wanted to face Ray Borg instead.
White was aiming to bring the Johnson-Dillashaw fight to fruition as it would have led to significant pay-per-view numbers for the UFC.
“You’re on the cusp of breaking the record and doing all this stuff… and you’re talking about superfights and how you want $2 million and all this other stuff. I’m not thrilled about it,” Dane White said about Johnson's comments about compensation.
There is no working around the pay-per-view model. More PPVs sold result in better fighter compensation. Demetrious Johnson's combined pay-per-view collection reportedly lagged behind Conor McGregor's least-bought PPVs. Johnson eventually left the UFC and joined hands with ONE FC in 2018.
#3 Conor McGregor demanded $100 million to fight Floyd Mayweather
Conor McGregor is the ultimate UFC cash-cow and the promotion treats him like one. Although McGregor has never feuded Dana White over money to fight in the UFC, the Notorious One adamantly demanded $100 million to fight Floyd 'Money' Mayweather. Dana White, who was co-promoting the event along with Mayweather Promotions, had to bow to Conor McGregor's demands for the hefty paycheck.
Although the fighter paychecks after the 2017 blockbuster clash have not been disclosed, Conor McGregor was said to have crossed the $75 million mark in compensation for the crossover event. The Irishman also launched his 'Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey' at the time and is said to have raked in millions from the profits made from this business venture.
“Tell Floyd and Showtime, I’m coming… I want $100 million cash to fight him under boxing rules because he’s afraid of a real fight," McGregor told Dana White.
It was later officially announced by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that McGregor took home a $30 million dollar purse, which is far more than what Dama White has ever offered other fighters in the UFC.