At the September 10 pay-per-view, six fighters collided with opponents who they’d had no expectation to face two days prior. The late changes came courtesy of a massive weight miss from planned headliner Khamzat Chimaev, who tipped the scales 7.5 pounds over the limit for his scheduled welterweight bout with Nate Diaz.
With that, the card was shifted in a huge way. Whilst Tony Ferguson stepped up to face Diaz, Kevin Holland was left sharing the cage with Chimaev. Those moves meant Li Jingliang faced Daniel Rodriguez, who weighed in almost 10 pounds heavier than the Chinese fighter.
Given that those alterations left fighters preparing for new rivals on less than 24 hours’ notice, most acknowledged that they were likely compensated for their troubles. But during the post-fight press conference, White actually suggested that wasn’t the case.
After many expressed their surprise, MMA reporter Ariel Helwani insisted that the UFC chief had lied about the likes of Ferguson, Holland, and Jingliang not receiving purse boosts.
During Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, the Canadian said that White emerged looking like an “A**hole” for denying that the promotion took care of its athletes financially.
“It makes you (White) come across like an a**hole if you sit there and be like, ‘Nope, they got contracts. They got contracts and we didn’t pay anyone an extra dime,’” Helwani said. “…you don’t want to put out the precedent to other fighters to ask for money, that just makes you look bad.”
But coming to White’s aid, and not for the first time, was Michael Chandler.
Chandler Offers a Different Assessment
Appearing on Wednesday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Chandler was asked for his take on White’s apparent post-event fabrication.
After admitting that he was initially confused as to why the UFC president didn’t make the most of the opportunity to parade the promotion’s care of fighters, especially given the ongoing pay debate, Chandler actually praised White for his comments.
According to the #5-ranked lightweight, the fact that White didn’t search for praise, attention, or credit makes the “gift” that much more respectable.
“I don’t know. I think in some alternate universe, it actually makes sense,” Chandler said. “Like you said, I heard the same thing too, where I’m like, ‘Why would you not admit that right now because that actually makes you look good? Especially when all anyone does is throw darts at you and throw venom at you.’
“All that to say — once again, I will always get called a brown noser — I know some things behind the scenes, where I’m like, ‘Okay, they’re a well-ran organization who takes better care of people than people actually think they do.’ But the best kind of gifts are the ones that you don’t expect anything in return and the ones that you don’t gloat about,” Chandler added. “It kind of makes me respect him even more.”
Chandler has previously been a staunch defender of White and the UFC when it comes to fighter pay, with the former Bellator champion suggesting that the onus is on fighters to market themselves and boost their income outside the cage.
What do you make of Michael Chandler’s assessment?