With the UFC fighting off detractors as the promotion hosts events during the coronavirus pandemic, while a number of their big-name stars are making public their complaints over fighter pay and bout negotiations, Dana White says he’s in everyone’s crosshairs right now.
Speaking to reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage at the UFC Apex after UFC 250, the UFC president explained that he’s up there to be shot at by media and fighters alike, and to a certain degree he understands people’s frustrations because he feels plenty of his own.
“Listen, if you don’t think that what I’m doing right now is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and if you don’t think that three times a day I don’t throw my (expletive) hands up and I’m ready to say, ‘(expletive) this (expletive).’ Believe me (I am),” he said. “And the amount of people that I have gunning at me right now is insane. It’s insane. But here we are.”
The topic of fighter pay has emerged over the course of the last few weeks, with Jon Jones going public with his issues with the UFC over a potential heavyweight fight with Francis Ngannou, while Jones’ managerial stablemate and BMF champion Jorge Masvidal also went public with his own frustrations over the percentage of the promotion’s profits fighters receive compared to other sports.
Then, to make matters worse for the UFC president, the promotion’s biggest star – Conor McGregor – ended the night by tweeting his retirement.
Reacting to the fighters’ complaints, White said, “One of the beautiful things about this sport is you don’t have to fight. This isn’t the NBA or the NFL where you better be at practice, you better show up and do this. You don’t have to do anything here. And if these guys want to sit out and retire right now, or anybody feels uncomfortable in any way, shape or form of what’s going on, you don’t have to fight. It is all good. So if that’s what Conor’s feeling right now, Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal – I feel you. It’s not like I’m going, ‘Holy (expletive)! This is crazy! This is nuts!’ Nothing is crazy and nuts right now because everything is crazy and nuts right now. So, on a certain level, I totally understand. I get it.”
White did respond directly to Jones and Masvidal’s public criticisms, however, and stated that both fighters had recently signed new multi-fight deals with the promotion prior to their recent grievances.
“Here’s the thing about Masvidal: We just signed a new deal with Masvidal,” said White. “Masvidal just signed a new eight-fight deal – he’s got seven fights left on his deal. My people were working with him and trying to get a deal done with him when he already has a deal. Jon Jones has like seven fights left on his deal. He just signed a new deal less than a year ago.
“Guys, you can say whatever you want, but I have a deal. We just did a deal with both guys. This isn’t one of those scenarios where they’ve got some three-year-old deal and it’s like, ‘Oh man! That was three years ago. I’m in a much different place.’ This was months ago.”