Ariel Helwani Tears Into UFC Sponsorship System And Lack Of Fighter Compensation, ‘Trust Me They Can Afford It’

Ariel Helwani goes off on the UFC sponsorship system and berates them for lack of payment and pensions for fighters.

Ariel Helwani
Sean O'Malley on YouTube

Ariel Helwani is urging the UFC to do better in terms of paying fighters. 

The topic of fighter pay in the UFC was been on the rise in recent years. More and more fighters are coming out and discussing the need for better pay in the organization. From the bottom new fighters in the promotion to the highest ranked champions fighting on Pay-Per-View events, all would like to see an increase. The comparison between the UFC and other sports has been brought to attention as well. Some fighters have been asking to be allowed to make a transition over to boxing in over to get a bump up in prize money. 

Ariel Helwani would like to see the fighters have more of a say in their financial situations within  the UFC

Now one of the most outspoken MMA media members is airing his grievances on this issue. Ariel Helwani was in the hot seat when he was invited to speak with Sean O’Malley on his show the TimboSugarShow on YouTube. Helwani was asked to discuss his thoughts on fighter pay, he went into great detail about purses, sponsorship, pensions, and more. 

“I think the show-win model should be abolished. If you are fighting in the UFC, you deserve to know what you’re making. And I feel like if it’s 12 and 12, it shouldn’t be 24 (thousand) right off the bat, right? So if you’re committed to that, then be committed to that 24 right off the bat,” Helwani said. “Trust me they can afford it, they can afford to make the minimum pay. It’s all very one-sided in terms of who has the power and the leverage.”

In 2015 the UFC brought in Reebok as a uniform sponsor for the athletes. They did away with the outside sponsorships fighters were allowed to display on things like their fight kits and flags. They offered a set price to athletes, to begin with. At the start, it was $2,500 per fight to fighters with between one and five UFC fights. It rose to $40,000 to champions. Fighters were upset to lose out on outside sponsorship when this deal was first announced. Now the UFC is making more money off sponsors than ever before. 

“I remember Lorenzo [Fertitta] telling me like, Oh, we’re gonna be just like the NFL. It’s gonna be a clean uniform,” Helwani said. “I was like, ‘Wait a second, Tom Brady is allowed to be sponsored by Nike, right? LeBron James makes more money off of Nike than he does off the Lakers.’ You know what I mean? How are you guys being compensated? And I could totally understand when people say, Oh, they’re giving you a platform, you’re fighting on ESPN, you’re gonna be public. Great. But why are you being shut out of all these other potential things? And oh, by the way, have you looked at the cage lately? Have you looked at how many sponsors are on that thing? Like there’s never been more sponsors on that thing? What percentage are you guys getting out of that?”

Luke Rockhold was quite vocal about the archaic nature of the UFC bonus system leading up to his last fight. Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has been asking for more money or the freedom to try out boxing. Shane Burgos resent left the UFC to sign with PFL after getting a much better offer. These are all signs to the UFC that they must do better for their athletes. Throughout all of this UFC president, Dana White continues to push the native that fighters are paid well. 

Watch the entire video here:

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