Jake Paul and Triller Fight Club are easily some of the most divisive entities in combat sports today. Far more divisive than any of the UFC GOAT arguments, or disputes over Aljamain Sterling and knees to a downed opponent.
While we're not fans of either Triller, Jake Paul or what they represent, they may possess an unforeseen upside.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones recently stirred up controversy when he asked for a considerable pay raise to fight heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. This opened up a can of worms, with former UFC fighters also stating how the company tends to offer very little money to its fighters compared to the revenue generated from an event.
Promising prospect Jimmy Flick recently announced a shock retirement after one UFC fight, stating that fighter pay is terrible and that UFC fighters will never unionize for a better future.
Frank Mir recently stated in an interview how his bout against Brock Lesnar generated more PPV buys than Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder's boxing match. However, Mir went on to state that he and Lesnar made a fraction of what Fury and Wilder made.
Granted, boxing has been around for a lot longer than MMA, but that isn't the only reason UFC fighters are being paid a lot less than boxers.
Frank Mir also made his boxing debut through Triller Fight Club on the preliminary card of Jake Paul vs Ben Askren.
Other than champions, no fighter on a UFC card gets a share of the pay-per-view sales, and they don't see any revenue from the gate sales either. Jon Jones appeared on Steve-O's podcast in 2020 and said that UFC fighters also receive a bare minimum remuneration from merchandise sales. When you watch this, you understand that he's been talking about getting better pay for a long time now.
After his win at UFC Vegas 24, Robert Whittaker was asked if he would fight Jake Paul for $500,000. Without hesitation, 'Bobby Kuckles' said he'd fight for less. While everyone had a good laugh, you can't help but read between the lines. Clearly, UFC fighters aren't paid nearly as much as they should be.
Former middleweight champion and number one contender Robert Whittaker reportedly made a little over $450,000 for his win against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 24. Of this, $170,000 was the winning bonus and $50,000 was his 'Fight of the Night' bonus. His base pay was close to $220,000.
Compare this with how much boxers make on average, or even how much Jake Paul made in his last bout, and you will see why UFC fighters can make a case for being underpaid.
Conor McGregor is one of the exceptions, and that probably has to do with how big a PPV draw he is. But despite that, McGregor's biggest purses in the UFC don't come close to his purse from the lone boxing bout on his record.
Conor McGregor reportedly made close to $100 million off his fight with Floyd Mayweather. McGregor's base pay for his last bout at UFC 257 against Dustin Poirier was $5 million, while Poirier's was $1 million.
It's worth mentioning that this has been Poirier's biggest payday to date. It's not surprising, then, that he passed up the title fight for a trilogy bout with McGregor.
Compare these numbers with Jake Paul and Ben Askren's disclosed purses from their Triller bout: Paul's purse was disclosed to be $690,000 while Askren's was $500,000. These figures don't include any PPV shares or sponsorship deals.
It's a shame that Jake Paul, a YouTuber who has two fights under his belt against non-fighters, receives significantly better pay than fighters who have spent most of their lives training in martial arts.
A lot of the UFC's best fighters have been with the company for a long time. Is it fair for these fighters who put their lives on the line to be paid less than a YouTuber whose most notable win has been against a wrestler in a boxing ring?
How Jake Paul and Triller could change UFC fighter pay:
Jake Paul and Triller are doing a lot of disruptive things, which many would agree are detrimental to boxing and combat sports. However, it's clearly attracting the attention of MMA fighters who are opening up to the idea of boxing bouts at Triller, which will attract significantly better paydays than what the UFC currently pays them.
Dana White has admitted in the past to being a compulsive gambler. He even said on Mike Tyson's podcast that he'd bet $1 million on Jake Paul to lose the fight against Ben Askren. Snoop Dogg publicly asked Dana White:
"Where my money at?"
Snoop Dogg was insinuating that the UFC president owes him $2 million for losing a bet on the Jake Paul vs Ben Askren fight.
White has a net worth of $500 million, and it's growing by the day. Surely the UFC president can afford to pay his fighters a bigger share of revenue without denting his own pockets or his gambling habits too much.
It's sad to think that someone like Jake Paul could bring about a change in UFC fighter pay, but we'd rather see these fighters get better paydays than watch Triller Fight Club and Jake Paul get canceled.
For all their faults, Jake Paul and Triller could help bring about a very real difference in how the UFC president approaches his fighter's contracts and their pay scales.
Nobody ever saw this coming, and it may never happen either, knowing how headstrong Dana White is and how much control he has over the UFC and its fighters. But for all the hate we give Jake Paul, if he and Triller even unknowingly create some change in UFC fighter pay, it will definitely earn him our respect.