Not many topics split opinion and consistently remain on the mainstream MMA agenda quite like the fighter pay discussion does. While the sport’s premier promotion has grown at an immense rate across the past decade, both globally and financially, many fighters and pundits don’t believe that the athletes competing inside the Octagon have benefitted from that like they should.
While the likes of heavyweight king Francis Ngannou, bantamweight titleholder Aljamain Sterling, and former 185-pound king Luke Rockhold have all been vocal critics of the organization’s pay structure, the debate certainly hasn’t been one sided.
As well as now-former UFC light heavyweight Sam Alvey insisting that the UFC does everything it can to boost remuneration, top-five 155lber Michael Chandler has put the onus on fighters to improve their incomes.
Now, GOAT contender Silva has shared a similar sentiment.
Silva: ‘You Can’t Complain Once You’ve Signed’
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Silva gave his assessment of the perceived issues with fighter pay.
While he admitted that the UFC could be offering athletes a better income, particularly those who play their part in expanding the promotion’s name and notoriety, “The Spider” insisted that it’s down to fighters and their management to ensure they don’t sign contracts that they will later complain about.
“When you come to UFC, you have your manager, you have your team, and you need to take care of your business, correct? Your manager, your lawyer, and your team need to take care of this part of business, because you don’t have time to focus on that… A lot of very talented fighters sign something very crazy because the manager doesn’t take care of the fighters. It’s only about numbers and money, and that’s the problem.
“My personal opinion, of course the UFC can pay the fighters better, especially a couple of fighters doing something very, very incredible inside UFC and making the UFC name strong and powerful; making more (respect) for the brand. But everything is about talking to your manager, having a good thing behind you to protect you, so you don’t sign something you don’t like in the future.”
In a similar vein, Silva defended White, who’s often at the receiving end of higher pay criticism. The Brazilian noted that the UFC president is a businessman, meaning he acts in the best interest of the organization, not the fighters.
With that in mind, Silva believes that fighters need to turn contracts down and ply their trade elsewhere if they are unhappy with what is being offered by the MMA leader.
“I think Dana is a good person. Everybody talks about Dana, ‘He’s not good, blah blah blah.’ He’s a good person, but he’s a businessman. UFC doesn’t get to this point now as a big company in the world if the people think, ‘Oh, I do something, I’m sorry fighters, I did something incorrect.’ No, the company grew up because of hustlers doing something. That’s the game.
“Everybody signs and then when they’re inside, they start talking about, ‘Oh, the guys don’t pay me correct, this and that.’ … You’re inside or not. You can sign or not sign. You can go anywhere. But when you sign… you can’t say nothing because why you sign? You signed! You have a contract. ‘Oh no, let me out the contract.’ You signed the contract? You saw the rules of the contract, so why you talking about it now?”
Silva’s upcoming boxing opponent, Jake Paul, has been a leading voice in the campaign for improved contractual conditions in MMA ever since emerging on the combat sports scene. While some have doubted his sincerity, others have praised “The Problem Child” for bringing the topic to the forefront of the sport’s agenda.
Do you agree with Anderson Silva’s assessment of the fighter pay debate?