Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson recently explained how the UFC underpaid him during his tenure.
Johnson left the UFC in 2018 following a long stint with the promotion. At one point, he didn’t lose a fight over seven years, including during his flyweight title reign.
Johnson has found success in ONE since leaving the Octagon. He recently re-claimed the promotion’s 135lb title by knocking out Adriano Moraes with a flying knee.
Johnson and Moraes will have their trilogy later this year on U.S. soil. It’s expected to be arguably the biggest fight in the promotion’s history.
Johnson had a strained relationship with the UFC brass, even during the time in which he was arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He was in multiple contract disputes with the promotion despite setting numerous records.
Johnson has been vocal in support of better UFC fighter pay and painted a disturbing picture of how he was treated financially while competing in the Octagon.
Demetrious Johnson Details UFC Fighter Pay Issues
During a recent Twitch stream, Johnson explained some of his financial struggles while competing in the UFC.
“When I fought Dominick Cruz (for the bantamweight title in 2011), I was on a contract – I think I was fighting for ($14,000 to show) and ($14,000 to win),” Johnson said. “I lost to Dominick Cruz, so I made $14K. Then I was about to fight Eddie Wineland, and that didn’t go through, so I fought Ian McCall in Australia. I was still on that same contract. And then I got a new contract when I fought Ian McCall the second time. I think I got bumped up to ($20,000) and ($20,000).
“I finally got a new contract as champion, and I think it was ($125,000 to show) and ($50,000 to win), but I couldn’t get pay-per-view points – and that’s where a champion makes most of their bang for their buck, is the pay-per-view points,” Johnson continued. “Because if you get on a card with a Conor McGregor and he does 2.1 million buys, then you just do the f**cking math. You’re going to make a sh*tload of money. I never got the opportunity to do that.”
Johnson went on to point out why a potential super fight with TJ Dillashaw fell through and the UFC’s alleged reluctance to pay a higher sum.
“When they tried to stiffarm me to fight T.J. Dillashaw, I was like, ‘Yeah, pay me a f*cking million dollars and I’ll do it. This is a super fight, let’s make some super money.’ They never wanted to do that. That’s why I came out like that, basically pushing back, like, ‘When does a champion have leverage? When does a champion be able to get what’s due to him?’”
Johnson is likely a future UFC Hall of Famer but his relationship with the promotion remains strained.
Johnson’s comments come just days after the UFC released Francis Ngannou following a lengthy contract dispute. Ngannou, like Johnson, was critical of the company’s pay structure.
If Johnson’s claims are true, arguably one of the biggest names in UFC history was paid far less than his actual value.
All quotes from MMA Junkie