Criticism of the UFC from both fighters and fans is nothing new, particularly when it comes to pay, but it has perhaps reached a high point across the last few years.
From the focus on the controversial show/win structure and the lowest levels of remuneration in the UFC to comparisons between the top boxing purses and the take-home pay for MMA’s biggest stars, not many discussions are as prominent as the fighter pay debate.
While some have spoken out in defense of Dana White and MMA’s premier promotion, many have slammed the UFC for the treatment of its athletes, with some even calling for a fighter union.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, former two-time welterweight challenger Jorge Masvidal provided some thoughts on the discussion, suggesting that the grievances and opinions of the UFC roster ultimately mean nothing to the promotion’s bigwigs.
“Our opinions don’t matter for crap, you know. Like, for the uniforms, for a lot of the pay — (for) a lot of things, our voices don’t matter,” said Masvidal. “All that matters is that we get in there and kick someone’s ass, that’s all they care for. It comes down to — fighters, the only breed like ourselves are other fighters. Many good things and many also bad things (come from that).
“Fighters are very individualized. If we were all able to get together and voice our opinions as one, these paychecks we would see just rise, from me all the way to the bottom guys,” added Masvidal. “But fighters are very individual creatures, you know, we’re all pounding on our chest saying, ‘We don’t need nobody.'”
That individualistic sentiment was recently on display in the case of Francis Ngannou. The UFC Heavyweight Champion has been embroiled in a contractual dispute with the promotion since before the start of 2022, which has left his future in the UFC uncertain.
Despite that, “The Predator” called for fighters looking to support him to lay down their pitchforks and protect their own positions on the UFC roster.
Masvidal: For Some Things, Fighters Need To Work Together
The topic of a potential fighter union has long been brought up by some parties, but often just as quickly dismissed.
While new prominent fighter pay campaigner Jake Paul has made it his ambition to create a successful union, the likes of UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Peña have provided less-than-optimistic takes when it comes to members of the UFC roster working together.
For Masvidal, while fighters prefer to make it on their own for the sake of their own stories, they have to learn to work together in some instances.
“I don’t know (if it will ever happen), man. What makes us special is also one of our bigger downfalls,” said Masvidal. “Like I said, we like to pound that chest and get to the mountain all by ourselves, and be like, ‘See, I told you I didn’t need no shoes, no nothing, no water; I got up here all by myself.’ That’s like, a lot of fighters’ mentality, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for some things we do have to work with each other.
“We’re not reinventing the world, we’re just following the blueprint of all other major sports. We’re definitely heading to that direction, but at a much faster speed than any of these other sports: football, baseball, basketball, they’ve been around for a damn long time, and we’re already in that conversation,” concluded Masvidal.
Having worked his way up from street-fighting to being one of the biggest stars in the UFC, Masvidal certainly knows all about fighting tooth and nail to make a career for himself in mixed martial arts.
But nevertheless, he seems hopeful of some sort of collective push for improved pay and contractual conditions in the future. And with his blossoming career in fight promotion, which has seen him launch two organizations, Gamebred Fighting Championship and iKON FC, Masvidal could mark himself as a key individual in the push for change.
Do you agree with Jorge Masvidal? Do fighters need to work together?