Perhaps no debate in mixed martial arts has been as polarizing as fighter pay. Whether through Jake Paul’s conquest for better remuneration and contractual conditions or the decision of top fighters like Jon Jones, Francis Ngannou, and Tony Ferguson to speak out, the discussion is more prominent that ever.
But not everybody falls on the same side of the argument. While many criticize the pay structure in the UFC, the likes of Chris Daukaus, Darren Till, and UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko have sought to defend the promotion. The latest to join that side of the discussion is 54-fight MMA veteran Cerrone.
During his appearance at UFC Austin media day on Wednesday, which came ahead of his return to the Octagon this weekend, “Cowboy” suggested that those complaining about pay should be directing the blame at their own doorsteps, not the UFC’s.
“I talk to the young kids at the PI about this all the time. They’re like, ‘Yeah, but we’re not Cowboy.’ And I say, ‘Hey man, I was you once. I stood where you stood,'” said Cerrone.
“And you guys b*tch about money and you b*tch about all the rights, and the things that you think you deserve. Man, this is the entertainment business. You need to create a name for yourself before you start making demands.”
“Yeah you’re making 12 and 12, but you just fought for Uncle Larry’s show for $500? I get it, win, win, win, get your name, and then the pay comes, and then the opportunities come, and then everything comes with it,” added Cerrone.
Cerrone’s sentiment is similar to one shared by top-five lightweight Michael Chandler, who also recently gave his take on the fighter pay debate. Like “Cowboy,” the former Bellator champion said that it’s up to fighters to use the platform provided to them by the UFC in order to secure lucrative opportunities outside the cage.
Chandler’s take received significant backlash from UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling, who accused “Iron” of speaking from a position of privilege and without any understanding of other fighters’ situations.
Interestingly, Cerrone chose to address and defend the situation towards the lowest end of the fighter pay scale. While many who criticize outspoken fighter pay campaigners suggest that the likes of Ngannou and other fighters at the top of the tree are adequately paid, “Cowboy” appears to believe that the same applies to the opposite end of the spectrum, which sees fighters walk away with as low as $12,000.
Women’s flyweight Sarah Alpar would likely disagree, having had to create a GoFundMe page to afford her camp requirements ahead of her fight with Erin Blanchfield last year.
What do you make of Donald Cerrone’s comments on fighter pay?