Quijano: Fighter woes amid a pandemic

Jingo Quijano

MAN by nature is a social being, and so being cooped up for so long inside our homes is unnatural.

Consequently, most of us have plenty of pent-up emotions and angst amidst an ongoing pandemic. I dare say—that all the social unrest happening in the US as a result of George Floyd’s death has been aggravated by all the bottled up pertubations experienced by most people.

CONOR. Take for example how it has spilled over into the fight world. Apparently, UFC’s biggest meal ticket in history—Conor McGregor is retiring again (for the third time).

If you ask UFC President Dana White about it, his response was that Conor is just frustrated about not being able to fight.

But the bombshell White unleashed on a recent interview was that Conor refused to step in to fight Tony Ferguson because the latter apparently balked at being a replacement fighter.

Now Conor apparently wanted to fight Justin Gaethje, but because Justin defeated Ferguson it will be Justin getting the ticket to dance with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

PROBLEMS. And if Conor stealing the thunder wasn’t enough, now White has to deal with disgruntled superstars Jon “Bones” Jones and Jorge Masvidal.

Jones went on the offensive on social media this week, complaining about his purses and stating that he was underpaid all this time.

One of his more colorful tweets on Twitter is this: “When I was in my prime, the UFC’s way of not paying me was telling me I wasn’t a star. Had me grateful for a new car meanwhile making tens of millions without my knowing.”

For his part, Masvidal brought up the issue of how much the fighters earn by way of percentage, arguing it was but a pittance.

Apparently, fighters get anywhere from 12-16 percent of revenue for every event. In the National Football League, it’s something like a 47-53 split, while in the NBA it’s an even 50-50.

CONTRACTS. My heart goes out to these fighters. Clearly, there is no shred of a doubt that they deserve more. But the reality is, the UFC from the beginning has been paying fighters much less compared to boxing.

The main and obvious reason for this is that the UFC is its own fight federation or league. It hires its own fighters to fight under its own brand and promotes it. Fighters are bound by contracts.

In boxing, it’s different. Fighters sign up with different promoters and fight under different sanctioning bodies. There are purse bids involved which often jack up the purses.

Boxers often have contracts with promoters to fight for a fixed minimum, and therein lies the rub. Because only the minimum is fixed, the potential for a higher purse is there depending on the opponent or whether or not it is a title fight or a unification bout.

In the UFC, fighters get paid according to what the contract states. That’s that. And if the revenue share is fixed, then they cannot go over that ratio.

It’s also different with major league sports where fighters are unionized and they enter into collective bargaining agreements with team owners. Players in team sports can go on strikes and get into lockouts. In individual fight sports, you fight your own fights.

It’s good that fighters like Masvidal and Jones are shedding light on what appears to be contracts of adhesion. But for now, the UFC owns them through the contracts which they signed, which are legal and binding.

And that’s not even the new normal.

ERBATIM. “Listen, we are going through some weird times right now. I just saw Masvidal saying I want more money. The whole fucking world is losing their minds right now.”—Dana White at a UFC 250 presscon

LAST ROUND. It’s on June Ann Horteza of MTCC Branch 2 Talisay City who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!