Saturday, September 24, 2022

Helwani Disputes White’s Comments On UFC 279 Pay Boosts

Renowned MMA reporter Ariel Helwani has insisted that Dana White‘s recent comments on UFC 279 pay are completely untrue.

At this past weekend’s pay-per-view, six fighters competing on the main card were matched with new opponents just one day before the event. Following Khamzat Chimaev‘s sizable weight miss, original co-headliner Tony Ferguson stepped up to the main event plate to share the Octagon with Nate Diaz.

Meanwhile, “Borz” was placed in the co-main event against Kevin Holland. Those changes left Li Jingliang, who weighed in at welterweight, squaring off against the much-heavier Daniel Rodriguez, who’d prepared for a 180-pound catchweight bout against Kevin Holland.

With those changes in mind, the general consensus was that some deals had been done behind closed doors, with some pay boosts sweetening the deal for those left preparing for new rivals on such short notice.

And despite comments out of Holland’s management team suggesting that was the case, White appeared to dismiss the notion that any fighter received a pay boost for their troubles during the post-fight press conference.

Helwani: White Looks Like An As*hole By Lying

During Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, host Helwani addressed the eventful fight week, UFC 279 event, and White’s pay claims.

After pleading with viewers to pay no attention to the UFC president’s remarks, Helwani suggested that White looks like an “as*hole” by lying about the promotion granting further remuneration to the athletes — which the Canadian said absolutely happened — whose fights were left in disarray a day before the PPV.

Explaining why he believes White made the comment, Helwani theorized that the UFC chief was looking to avoid setting a precedent for other fighters should a similar scenario take place at future events.

“Don’t believe for a second what was said on Saturday about nobody getting paid (extra). Of course they got paid,” Helwani said. “Every single one of those guys, all five of them, got paid, except for Khamzat, which makes sense. I don’t understand, I don’t like it. 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.’ What? You didn’t pay pro fighters an extra dime for changing opponents on 24 hours’ notice?

“These are pro fighters who trained for different opponents — southpaws, orthodox, wrestlers, strikers — and because you don’t want to put out the precedent to other fighters to ask for money, that just makes you look bad. At what cost? So that no one calls you up next time this happens and says, ‘Hey, you gave Tony Ferguson more money, you need to give me more money.’ I would be celebrating that!” Helwani added. “I would be saying, ‘Yeah, of course we took care of these guys. Of course we helped them out. Of course we looked out for them.’ They all got paid.”

With the fighter pay debate raging as strong as ever in recent months and years, many would perhaps have expected White to take the chance to publicly display the promotion’s extra offerings.

According to Helwani, he had the opportunity to, but chose against doing so.

Do you agree with Ariel Helwani’s assessment?

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