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Dana White Discusses UFC’s Discretionary Bonuses … Sort of

Written by Tom Ngo
May 27th, 2011
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UFC President Dana White

As the UFC continues on their path towards achieving global dominance, the world’s premier mixed martial arts show continues to come under heavy fire for underpaying their fighters. While some pundits believe Octagon athletes should be compensated better, White claims his company goes above and beyond what other professional sports organizations offer their players.

“We’re the only promoters, and we might be the only bosses in the history of the [expletive] world that pay guys more than what the deal is,” White stated during this week’s UFC 130 presser.

Of course, what White is referring to are the “discretionary bonuses” his company hands out on a consistent – yet top secret – basis. These commissions are completely separate than the Fight Night Bonuses the UFC gives their independent contractors, which they are also not required to pay.

“First of all, sometimes an event becomes bigger than we anticipated it to be. Sometimes there’s more money involved than we budgeted or thought could happen. What do we do? We share with [the fighters]. We’re not going to go, ‘Hey, listen. That’s your [expletive] deal, buddy. You signed that deal. I don’t care how big this event was,’ even though that’s our right to do.

“The other reason a guy might get a bonus is because me and [UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta] are sick, insane fight fans, and we might be sitting there in our chairs, and when we jump up out of our [expletive] seat and start screaming, ‘Holy [expletive],’ we’re writing that dude a check, no matter what. There have been many cases where the show didn’t do what we thought they were going to do, but we felt that he deserved that extra money.”

If such generosities are being offered, why not make some of the discretionary bonuses public? Particularly since releasing the numbers would likely help silence those that have bashed the UFC for not properly compensating their athletes.

“Nope,” White emphatically stated. “[Fans and media] want to know what [the amounts are] so bad. It’s crazy how bad they want to know it. But this is the way I look at it … money changes a lot of things.

“I’m just using this as an example, when you get a million-dollar bonus, let’s say you get a million-dollar bonus. People come crawling out of the [expletive] woodwork, man. Every uncle, cousin, nephew, people you didn’t know you were related to need money. Everybody comes asking you.

“We’ve become accustomed to it with professional athletes because in all of the other big sports, it’s out there. You think they want it out there? It drives them [expletive] nuts, but that’s the way these guys like it and I don’t blame them one bit.”

According to ESPN, former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar was the sport’s highest paid fighter in 2010. Between his estimated UFC prize money and pay-per-view percentages, the former WWE star reportedly pocketed $5.3 million last year.

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