Luke Rockhold, the former UFC middleweight champion, has slammed his boss Dana White over his recent takes on fighter pay.
Promotional president White has declared the promotion, who pay first-time fighters as little as £9,500 to compete on internationally broadcast ESPN and BT Sport cards, can't be criticised for their purse structure. He insists boxing has caused major problems by having fighters earn exorbitant purses, forcing some undercard fighters to be underpaid.
But Rockhold disagrees, and implored his employer to "shut up" after his controversial recent interview with GQ. Speaking on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, the middleweight explained his grievances, saying that the UFC president should focus more on fighters than exorbitant gestures like his recent $250,000 cash gift to YouTube star Kyle Forgeard of Nel.
"We're putting our lives on the line," Rockhold explained. "These guys are out there trying to act like they're doing the best for us. It's like the business has changed. There's been growth, and Dana White's out there trying to follow the Conor McGregor model.
"Putting his things, and giving like more to degenerate lifestyle kids. What'd he give to that kid? Somebody told me he gifted that kid, Full Send kid, a quarter million dollars for no reason, and he's out there saying - and I've heard it too - but people keep bringing it to my attention, that we get what we deserve. Come on, Dana, shut up."
In a lengthy YouTube video posted by GQ last week White answered questions from fans online through a number of different forums. At one point he was directly asked about the controversial issue of fighter pay, and responded: “There aren’t too many thing you can talk s*** about the UFC about. If you look at look at what we’ve done with the business in the last 22 years, It’s incredible. Never been done, ever, the things that we’ve done in the fight business.
"You always have to have something to b**** about, I guess, and fighters always want to make more money. Boxing has absolutely been destroyed because of money and all the things that go on. Believe me, these guys get paid what they’re supposed to get paid. They eat what they kill. They get a percentage of the pay-per-view buys and the money is spread out amongst all the fighters.
"If you don’t like it, there’s a simple solution to this problem. Go start your own MMA organisation - knock yourself out. Pay them whatever you want to pay them. It’s been done before. How has it worked out for other guys? Not well. Mind your business."
And in a heated press conference yesterday ahead of his return to action against Paulo Costa at UFC 278, Rockhold again slammed the promotion. The former champion has been an outspoken critic of the bonus structure in the UFC, and believes there should be a more even split.
"Everything I'm saying is justified and truthful," Rockhold said. "Should I be in a position of power before I say this s***? F*** off, I've got nothing to lose. I don't need this business, I love fighting and I'm here to fight the best motherf***ers and this happens to be the place where it's done.
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"The company is f***ing growing and they're implementing other little stupid a** bonuses, $5,000 here, $5,000 there, $50,000, man. We've been stuck on this motherf***er 20 f***ing years. Back when GSP [Georges St-Pierre] fought Jake [Shields, in 2011], it was $100,000.
"It was f***ing growing, when there was Lorenzo and Frank running the show, there was real grounding wires. These guys [Endeavor, the UFC's parent company] don't know what they're doing, they're letting Dana run everything and suppress the sport, this whole f***ing thing needs to grow together, our lives are on the f***ing line.
"Healthcare, our f***ing health needs to be taken care of. Mine has not been taken care of, there are a lot of things that need to f***ing change, I'm just not scared to say it, no-one wants to say it because they want to get that title shot, they want to move up, I've f***ing done it all.
"This is business, every business is like this, it's about leverage. It's about always keeping the f***ing upper hand, it's not just here it's everywhere and if you let these motherf***ers think they have this leverage it's only going to grow above you, so it's just people understanding their worth."