Demetrious Johnson Sounds Off On Fighter Pay: “We Want More Money”

Count UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson among those who are unhappy with the current pay structure for the UFC.

Johnson, who is set to headline a December event in defense of his title against the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 24, talked with Submission Radio recently about his feelings.

“I was mind-boggled when I saw that, how Sage Norhcutt made more than the (former) champion of the 135-pound division. So I mean, that’s just to show you. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is about the money. It is absolutely, 110 percent about the money. Because if there was no money on the line for these fights, I wouldn’t be (expletive) fighting. I’d be in the gym, still training and having a good time, but I wouldn’t be pushing my body to 185 beats per minute, making sure my body is 110 percent healthy, making sure I’m getting my diet on and making sure I’m gonna cut out alcohol, drinking and all that stuff. So there’s a lot that goes on the line when it comes to athletes getting ready to fight. You look at the NFL. Those guys want more money because (they) have a short opportunity to make as much money as possible. I’m only 30 now and I had 10 years. I’ve fought for the UFC since 2011. So what is that? Essentially, five years I’ve competed in the UFC and I’ve been the champion for almost four years. I can’t retire right now. So if I was an NFL player and I played four years and won the Super Bowl four years in a row, I guarantee I can (expletive) retire. You’re starting to see a lot of fighters like, ‘we want more money so we can be able to retire eventually,’ instead of, we get to 30 years-old and we’re like, ‘alright, I think Costco has openings.'”

Johnson has mentioned the idea of a possible “super-fight” with bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Cruz was the last fighter to defeat “Mighty Mouse” before the UFC created the flyweight division. However, he understands the importance behind both fighting big names and defending the belt.

“Doesn’t matter to me. My pay check is exactly the same. I think you see a lot of guys who are starting to come out and say, ‘no I’m not going to fight that guy, even though he’s the No. 1 contender because I want a better pay check,’ and you’re starting to see a lot of champions do it. And I understand why they’re doing it, because the UFC have made it a point – champions don’t get paid the top dollars. And you’ve got a guy who can come out, who’s never lost – I have nothing against GSP, but I like to keep it real – you have a guy that hasn’t been active in three years and he’s (probably going to make) way more money than any champion on the roster – probably same as Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz – but that’s what the UFC have started to do. And you’re starting to see a lot of people say, ‘if I don’t get this title shot, this is not a sport at all,’ and I think we’re starting to lose that mystique to where you have two of the best fighters in the world, going out to fight each other to become the champion. But now, everybody is like, ‘I don’t want to fight the No. 1 contender, I want to fight the guy who everybody likes to watch fight, so that I get that big pay check.’ Trust me, I’m about to jump in that boat too, but I will never turn down a fight and I’ll just fight anybody.”