Fighter pay within the UFC has become an increasingly topical issue over the last few years, and the fact that the company was just sold for $4 billion is likely to stimulate further discussion on the matter.
Having seen the Fertitta’s make off with such a large sum of money based, at least partly, on the efforts of the fighters, many members of the UFC roster will be feeling even more aggrieved than ever before about the level of their income.
Based on the list of UFC 200 payouts that was released last week, one fighter who appears to have more reason to grumble about financial matters than most is TJ Dillashaw.
The former UFC bantamweight champion only made $50,000, a sum that included a $25,000 win bonus, for his decision victory over Raphael Assuncao at the landmark event. No winning fighter on the night made less than this, while only Julianna Pena and Kelvin Gastelum failed to double Dillashaw’s meagre earnings. They made $64,000 and $86,000 respectively.
However, when Dillashaw appeared on a recent episode of Stud Radio, it wasn’t the issue of fighter pay that he chose to speak out about. Rather the former Team Alpha Male representative claimed that the UFC were treating the athletes like “employees” as opposed to independent contractors, but that they were failing to provide any of the benefits to which holders of such a status are entitled.
“They treat us like employees, but they don’t give us benefits like employees,” Dillashaw said. “It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. We have to tell them where we’re at at all times, so USADA can show up and drug test us. But we don’t get health benefits. It’s kind of crazy that we are controlled. Any time you have to tell work where you’re at and what you’re doing, that’s considered an employee, not a contractor. They can’t tell a subcontractor what to do and when to do it. So this whole drug-testing thing is kind of crazy and the way they’re making us wear Reebok and all this stuff we have to do. They’re treating us like employees, but not giving us the benefits of an employee(Transcription via MMAFighting).”
When the Reebok deal was initially announced, claims that it blurred the lines between employee and independent contractor were rife, due to the fact that the UFC were dictating to fighters what they could wear while they worked.
However, few have criticised the invasive and controlling anti-doping program in this regard, probably because it is an otherwise positive thing for the sport.