UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes has admitted regret over some of his past comments on the polarizing fighter pay debate.
While stories come and go each week in the sport of MMA, one constant is the discussion about fighter remuneration in the sport’s premier promotion.
The likes of Jake Paul, Francis Ngannou, and Luke Rockhold have all been vocal in their criticisms of the UFC. Others, including Valentina Shevchenko, Kevin Holland, and Chris Daukaus, have supported the organization.
One man who appeared to join the side of the argument calling for change back in 2020 was Blaydes. Prior to his headline clash with Alexander Volkov, “Razor” made his feelings known on the matter, insisting the “money is there” to pay fighters adequately.
“I don’t want to hear all those excuses, the money is there,” Blaydes told CBS Sports. “I don’t want to hear the excuses. Even if you just bumped us up to like 29% of revenue, that would be a giant raise for guys. I don’t want to hear that. If you don’t want to pay us, just say you don’t want to give us the money. Just say that and don’t make excuses like, ‘I don’t know where it’s going to come from.’ It’s like, bro, don’t do that. Don’t disrespect our intelligence like that. We are worth more. If you don’t want to pay us, just say that and we can make our own informed decisions.”
Despite his five-round victory over the Russian, Blaydes was slated by Dana White, with the UFC President claiming the Illinois native “looked stupid” for not backing up his fight week talk inside the Octagon.
Unsurprisingly, some fans and pundits connected some dots and came to the conclusion White’s comments derived from his anger towards Blaydes’ assessment of fighter pay.
But despite many agreeing with Blaydes’ sentiment and speaking out in a similar fashion since, the top-five heavyweight contender appears to have had a change of heart.
Blaydes: “I’m Just Happy I Got A Job”
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Blaydes looked back on his original comments and the subsequent response.
When asked whether he felt “iced” out following his decision to voice his less-than-positive take on the UFC’s pay structure, Blaydes admitted the promotion was annoyed. However, in Blaydes’ mind, the UFC’s frustrations were justified.
“Well, yes. They were frustrated with me, and they had every right to be,” said Blaydes. “Me speaking on the pay, I’m just happy I got a job. I had a job during Covid. A lot of people didn’t have that opportunity. I was still able to earn and provide for my family. So I get that.”
It’s hard to pinpoint where Blaydes’ latest comments stem from. Some will undoubtedly suggest pressure from the promotion and a desire to climb towards heavyweight gold, especially following his successful return to the main event spotlight last weekend, may have played a part.
On the flip side, the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on families and individuals across the world, especially financially, may have simply brought a change in perspective for the 31-year-old.
What did you make of Curtis Blaydes’ original comments on fighter pay? Are you surprised by his latest remarks?