Two days after directing pointed criticism at the pay of UFC fighters, Tim Kennedy has apologized to the fight promotion’s executives.
“The intent of these statements was to highlight that professional fighters incur significant expense associated with their preparations to fight and that fighter compensation is still not on par with other major sports,” wrote the middleweight on his official Facebook fan page.
Kennedy (15-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC), 33, is scheduled to meet Roger Gracie (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) next Saturday at UFC 162, but as of late, most of the MMA media’s attention has been focused on a controversial interview he gave this week with the Grapple Talk podcast.
It was during the appearance that the decorated soldier said it was “pathetic” that fighters had to take second jobs to support their careers, and mused that he’d be better off collecting trash than accepting low pay for his services. He also detailed his earnings for the Gracie fight and said a win would earn him a mere $20,000 before taxes and after expenses.
Kennedy’s comments came on the heels of several ex-UFC fighters criticizing the fight promotion’s pay structure, including World Series of Fighting signees Jon Fitch and Jacob Volkmann and John Cholish.
“While I am fortunate to have various revenue streams associated with my business interests, most fighters do not have that luxury,” Kennedy wrote. “When you spend training camps with great guys with amazing talents and you see them barely making ends meet, while simultaneously seeing athletes in other sports with far less character and a far smaller work ethic making exponentially more, you can get frustrated.”
Kennedy, a onetime Strikeforce title challenger, also claimed his comments were taken out of context when he gave the interview.
“Unfortunately, I made statements that alluded to how the UFC in particular pays its athletes,” he wrote. “This was particularly offensive as Zuffa has taken better care of me than any other organization, even giving me a bonus for being amusing on Twitter. My choice of words was poor, not properly informed, and did not match my intent. Additionally, my comments were taken out of context. “
In an email to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), the podcast’s editor, Callum Leslie, wrote: “‘I don’t agree with Tim that his comments were taken out of context, and I think the transcript supports me in that. However, I don’t blame Tim for backtracking, I’m sure that he was under a lot of pressure.
“This was obviously something that had been on his mind for a while, since he sent me the breakdown of the purse as soon as we had finished the interview. ‘Taken out of context’ is something of a catch-all term for when people say things in interviews they later regret, and sadly it looks like Tim has been made to regret these comments. I’ve not spoken to Tim since the email exchange straight after the interview. The full interview will be released today.”
UFC heavyweight Travis Browne recently voiced his disagreement with Kennedy’s statements. While praising the fighter as a hard-worker and good teacher during their time at Jackson-Winkeljohn’s MMA, Browne said Kennedy had little right to complain after signing on the dotted line.
“If you want to fight, this is what’s promised to you,” he said. “If you agree to it, then I don’t feel like you have the right to go back and say, ‘They’re not paying me that much.’ You agreed to it. This is your job. I think that some guys may forget about that a little bit.”
Despite his criticisms, Kennedy made it clear he doesn’t want to discredit the contributions of the UFC, which took him in after the shuttering of the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce earlier this year.
“I can tell you that I have been fighting longer than most people and I remember all too well the days when there was no regulation or standard for an MMA promotion,” he wrote. “I fought many times in Mexico where the rules were negligible, there were no physicals, and being paid was a luxury we didn’t expect. Our sport was shunned and was considered ‘human cockfighting.’ Today, we are on Fox. We have doctors and insurance. We make more money than the average American. And we get these things by playing a sport we love. The only reason this is possible is because of Zuffa. They have legitimized the sport and taken better care of the athletes than any other organization, and the trend is only improving, with athletes making three times what they made on average five years ago.
“My comments were hurtful and inappropriate. I accept full responsibility for the statements and apologize to the UFC, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, & Joe Silva as well as anyone I might have offended with my comments. Fighting for the UFC is an honor and a privilege. I look forward to putting this situation behind me and focusing on my upcoming fight with Roger Gracie.”
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