- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- In response to recent comments regarding low fighter pay, UFC president Dana White says the company is considering a change to its pay structure.
The primary change would do away with well-known “fight night” bonuses.
The UFC has issued “locker room bonuses” for years under Zuffa ownership that include cash bonuses for the top fight, knockout and submission of the night. Those bonuses are made public immediately after each event.
During a small luncheon with media members Monday, White announced he and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta were considering cutting the bonuses in favor of raising the base pay for undercard athletes.
“Let’s do away with the bonuses,” White said. “You don’t like the structure? All right. We’ll pay the lower level guys more money and no more f---ing bonuses.
“Yeah, it could happen. That’s what I’m thinking about doing. All the lower level guys want their money boosted. That’s easy to do.”
Whether White is seriously considering cutting the bonuses, which typically range between $40,000 and $65,000, or making frustrated comments to the media is debatable.
White did downplay the significance of the recent criticisms of fighter pay, which have grown louder this year than in the past.
Now-retired lightweight John Cholish criticized the UFC pay structure following his last professional bout in May. The 29-year-old compiled an 8-3 record since 2007, including a 1-2 mark in the UFC, and claimed he actually lost money during his last bout with the company.
Welterweight Jon Fitch, who was released by the UFC earlier this year, posted a video outlining what the UFC paid him during his eight-year run in the Octagon. Most recently, middleweight Tim Kennedy, who fights this weekend at UFC 162, discussed the unknown costs fighters take on, adding he might make more money to “empty trash cans.” Kennedy later apologized for the comments on his Facebook page.
White believes after Cholish made his comments in May, the media have zeroed in on the topic and are asking fighters loaded questions. Using UFC 162 as an example, he stated the top fighters on the card are all being paid handsomely.
“Frankie Edgar is going to make a lot money this week,” White said. “Anderson Silva ... Chris Weidman is going to make a lot of money this week.
“No disrespect, but who gives a f--- about Tim Kennedy? Is he selling out venues? Are people buying tickets for Tim Kennedy? OK. There you go.”
White also stated fighters have no idea what back-end costs the UFC incurs, citing offices in Las Vegas, Toronto, London, Beijing and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“The bonuses is something we’ve been doing out of the kindness of our hearts,” White said. “It’s not something that’s ever been structured. It was something we liked to do. We thought it was a cool thing to do.
“Apparently, people don’t like it. They want the lower level guys to make more money.”