Ex-UFC welterweight Jon Fitch responds to Dana White's fighter-pay comments


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Welterweight Jon Fitch cut a video today to respond to UFC President Dana White’s angry rebuttal about his tenure with the industry-leader.

Responding to White’s assertion that he made $302,000 in discretionary bonuses, Fitch added up his fight purses, saying he was paid a total of $1,022,000 for 18 bouts with the promotion and “about $300,000 in bonuses,” which he said brought his total payout to $1,322,000.

“Sounds like a lot of money,” he said. “But let’s look at that a little bit closer. Out of the 18 fights in that fight purse, I paid 20 percent of that to management and the gym. So if you take that number, divide it by seven-and-a-half years, I was making roughly $176,000 a year before management and gym fees.”

The onetime welterweight title challenger, who in January signed with the upstart World Series of Fighting promotion after his high-profile UFC release, said he was in the “medium to high pay grade,” but added, “most fighters didn’t make as much money as I did.”

Fitch’s take-home figure also leaves out taxes (UFC fighters are paid as independent contractors).

In a recent interview with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), White called Fitch (24-5-1) “delusional” in describing the UFC as a “hostile work environment” during a media teleconference in support of his upcoming fight at WSOF 3, which takes place Friday in Las Vegas.

“He had every opportunity that anyone else had,” White said. “After Georges St-Pierre beat the living s–t out of him, did we treat him differently or anything?

“Just to lay it out with facts, Jon Fitch lost to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87. He had an opportunity to fight for the title, and he got destroyed in that fight. He fought to a draw with B.J. Penn in a top-contender fight. Then he gets a chance to be a No. 1 contender again and gets knocked f—ing dead in the first round by Johny Hendricks. What f—ing opportunities has he not been given?”

The comparative value of those opportunities appears to be Fitch’s central gripe with his former employer, whose company is often valued north of $1 billion and has drawn controversy over its pay practices.

After putting a number to his total earnings, while also qualifying his figures might be inaccurate, Fitch listed numbers he could find for the live gates and pay-per-view revenue generated at his UFC fights. He claimed the company did $36 million at the box office and made $208 million on PPV, which was split in half with PPV providers. He said the figures did not include monies earned through sponsorships, DVD sales or video-game sales.

“That is an extreme lowball for the money that they’re making,” said Fitch, who was released following a loss to Demian Maia at UFC 156.

Live gate figures are made public in Nevada, where Fitch fought eight times, and Ohio, where he fought twice. Pay-per-view buy numbers are not made public by UFC parent company Zuffa, though there are unverified reports of the numbers.

In a recent interview with MMAjunkie.com given prior to White’s comments, Fitch was pointed in his criticism of the UFC’s payouts to fighters.

“The idea that they’re paying anyone enough money to where it would affect how they do business is a joke,” he said. “They have enough money to pay the fighters at the events from ticket sales, easily. That’s not counting pay-per-views, merchandise and any of the other stuff that goes on – even the concessions at those arenas.

“There’s a reason why nobody has the numbers, because it would look really bad on them if people actually had the numbers to see what they were spending on those kind of things. It’s not what they make it out to be.

“I think their profit margins – the amount of money they make compared to amount of money they spend out compared to what they actually pay the fighters – I think they could spare quite a bit more. A lot of that comes down to management. You get the managers to grow a pair and really come together and fight for money for the athletes.”

Fitch wouldn’t say whether his feelings were shared by any of his teammates at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. He claimed that naming names would invite reprisals from the UFC, but he did say he had the general support of fighters.

“I will say the overwhelming response not just from the fans, but other fighters who have contacted me, or made an effort to talk to me about things that have happened to them, or what was done to me with the cut and the comments on the cut, there has been a lot of support,” he said. “There are an overwhelming majority who do share that view. But they’re scared. They’re absolutely terrified because the fighters to them are just meat to be replaced easily.”

In the video, Fitch said it wasn’t his intention to complain about his pay, but rather, to shed greater light on the overall issue of compensation in the UFC.

“I’ve always loved the money I made from fighting with the UFC or organizations before I fought with the UFC,” he said. “I’ve never even complained about fighting when I fought for $250 or $500. I didn’t complain when I fought in an eight-man tournament for $1,500. Money was never important to me. That’s not why I fight; that wasn’t the point of fighting. I wanted to be the best in the world and prove that I was the best in the world.

“I don’t know why money always gets brought back up with them, and it’s not important to me, but I thought it was important for the fans to know what the numbers actually are and get some kind of perspective on what the fighters are actually getting paid.”

For the latest on WSOF 3, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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