Ahead of his headlining lightweight fight against Michael Chandler at UFC 274 Saturday, Tony Ferguson had some choice words for UFC president Dana White.
Ferguson likened White to a “drug dealer,” after White recently said that boxers are overpaid and didn’t favor a potential megafight between UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou and WBC and Lineal Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury.
“I think we’re underpaid personally,” Ferguson said. “I’m not going to say too much. Dana said something the other day – it’s on my phone, I think MMA Fighting actually reposted it – talking about how boxers are overpaid.
“I asked Dana to box, he said: ‘F*** no.’ I’m like: ‘Why?’ I want to go play baseball, I want to go do other pro sports. I’m an athlete. I grew up doing different pro sports at a very high level. I won a state championship in football, we were 27-1. I come from Grand Valley State University as a wrestler, I want to go do wrestling. I’ve got uncle Brock [Lesnar] that’s right there watching me.
“I want to go do all these couple things, but then I have this guy right here acting like a f****** drug dealer, telling me I can’t go do this s***. I want to go make more money for my family.”
White has continued to face criticism over how much UFC fighters make per fight. He once again defended the rate in which he pays his fighters Tuesday on The Pivot podcast.
“There’s always gonna be head butting,” White said. “Do you make enough money? Do you? I want to meet that guy that goes, ‘Oh, I’m good. I make plenty of money. I don’t need another dime.’ You’re never going to meet that guy. It’s never going to happen. Everybody wants more money. And one of the big problems with boxing too, is that all those f****** guys are overpaid, and every time they put on a fight, it’s a going-out-of-business sale. We’re just trying to get as much f****** money as we can from you guys, and then we’re out of here. We’ll see you in three years.
“You can’t build a league like that. You can’t build a sport. You can’t have 750 fighters under contract, making money, feeding their families every year, with that kind of mentality. It doesn’t work. You have to run a business.”
In 2020, the New York Post reported that fighters made less than 16% of the $900 million in UFC revenue from the previous year.
Ngannou, fresh off his unanimous decision victory over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January, declared that he wouldn’t be fighting without a new contract.
“I will not fight for $500,000 [or] $600,000 anymore,” Ngannou said. “It’s over.”
Former UFC flyweight, now AEW wrestler Paige VanZant told Ariel Helwani in 2019 that she made more money posting on Instagram than fighting in the UFC. That’s quite the stark contrast of what boxers make in a single fight, as Fury made just south of $30 million in his knockout victory over Dillian Whyte on April 23.
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