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Dana White on boxing contracts vs. UFC contracts: “we’re the good guys”

By Zach Arnold | November 18, 2010

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This is in relation to the Roy Nelson situation.

Read these articles to gain better context on the legal situation and then read these comments below.

ARIEL HELWANI: “What’s the situation with Roy Nelson? How was he able to fight if he had a contract with someone else?”

DANA WHITE: “It’s crazy, man.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Did you not know about this?”

DANA WHITE: “No, as far as we knew, he was not under contract. Dude, in 10 years have you ever heard us, you know, grabbing somebody else that was under contract? This is sneaky boxing [expletive]. This is the stuff that I’m saying, you know, everybody wants to point the finger at us like we’re the bad guys. Trust me when I tell you, we’re the [expletive] good guys. These fighters have to careful when they sign these rinky dink contracts with these other promoters. The funniest part is is Roy Jones Jr’s company, Roy Jones Jr. is a former fighter, you know, and you’ll hear this fighters crying about, oh this and that with the promoter. Well, he’s out screwing somebody else’s life over, another fighter.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “So is he done in the UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “You have to… when these guys go out and sign these contracts, you have to get a good attorney to look at these. I know right now there’s an organization out there that has guys signing these contracts that are old-school boxing contracts. They have options on top of options on top of options and you’re never out of contract with these guys.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “So is he done in the UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “I wouldn’t say that he’s done in the UFC. This is something that needs to be figured out.”

Somehow, I’m not sure that UFC wants to get into a public relations war about their contracts given that they almost cut the guy who is their UFC Heavyweight champion (Cain Velasquez) because the front office reportedly wanted all of the American Kickboxing Academy fighters to assign their video gaming rights to Zuffa. Plus, there’s that thing called the ‘champion’s clause’ that exists, too.

The UFC President also commented on whether or not Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir III will happen any time soon.

ARIEL HELWANI: “Is Brock/Mir III off the table? Are you no longer considering it?”

DANA WHITE: “Well, the fans have talked to me, you know. Listen, I value Twitter. Twitter’s such a great tool in talking to fans and finding out what they like and don’t like, etc. etc. Um… and there was an overwhelming, you know, amount of people that said they didn’t want to see that fight and I feel like my job is to bring the fans the fights they want to see so I’m going to try to figure this thing out.”

Mr. White has spent time this week in New York on business affairs and will be spending more time in New York (instead of Detroit where the UFC 123 show is happening). He will be doing the ‘car wash’ on ESPN to promote the upcoming PPV. Mike Straka:

Covering the Promax DBA Awards tonight in NYC, honoring UFC president Dana White and Tony Ponturo — one time the most powerful man in all of sports as head of Anheiser-Busch sports marketing budget of some 1 Billion dollars.

BJ Penn appeared yesterday on ESPN’s Sportscenter show and was really, really relaxed. I didn’t feel much energy at all when he was doing the interview. When asked whether or not he’s considering retirement he stated, “I want to do this for a few more years and stay as active as I can. I want to be in the Octagon and be in front of the fans and get a win under my belt.” As for why he’s fighting Matt Hughes at Welterweight instead of a catch weight, “It wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t fight at 170 again. I’m fine with it.” As far as what Penn’s future goals in the UFC are he stated, “I know I’ll get my chance. I plan on going out and beating Matt Hughes and in my heart again I want to be Lightweight champion.”

I thought Matt Hughes was terrific on the Countdown to UFC 123 show. He’s been terrific all the way around in all the interviews he has done for the fight — so much so that in many ways his fight against Penn is the real headliner on the Detroit card. I’ve heard a significant amount more discussion both on and offline about Hughes/Penn III than I’ve heard at all for Rampage/Machida. We’re going to find out a lot on Saturday night. Did Rampage gets a permanent rub from the A-Team movie or did the way he perform in the Rashad Evans fight hurt fan interest in him? What happens if he loses convincingly to Machida? Who will the fans cheer for between Hughes and Penn, two natural heels? Personally, the fight I’m looking forward to the most on the card is George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe Lauzon. That is going to be a hell of a fight and it has great meaning, too.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 20 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

20 Responses to “Dana White on boxing contracts vs. UFC contracts: “we’re the good guys””

  1. Zack says:

    When fighters dont get a cut from DVDs/video games, I would definitely say, no they are not the good guys.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    1) Fitch & Velasquez were not cut. So it’s a moot point.

    2) The UFC Championship clause extends once. It does not extend indefinitely like Bellator. And that’s the point he was making. Not to mention that the UFC has never actually used the Championship clause. They act in “good faith” and get a new contract signed before that happens. Strikeforce is the one who should be looked down for on this one. They used their championship clause on Sarah Kaufman. They are also at the last fight on the contract with Gilbert Melendez and have not worked in good faith to give him a new contract so far.

    3) The bigger stars do get a cut of the DVD and Video Games. The contracts Lesnar, GSP, Couture, Hughes, and the other stars are completely different then the run of the mill fighters who have no star appeal. Even McCorkle talked about how everybody on the PPV gets a cut above their contract price. Something that no other organization is currently doing. Not to mention that the UFC is increasing weight classes, markets, and even using their money to help get MMA regulated in states. So excuse me if I don’t cry for Jon Fitch not getting a cut of DVD sales. I would rather see the money put into NY so the sport can grow. I would rather see the money put into Germany. Even if it is a failure, at least they are trying to grow the sport.

    A lot of complaining for a company that does so much for the sport. By July 2011, Bantamweights will have the biggest platform they ever had with Faber/Cruz on TUF and then a big mega-fight. Oh, poor fighters….

    • Chuck says:

      Fitch was cut, but then Zuffa resigned him after Fitch conceded on the videogame likeness clause. And UFC used the Champion’s Clause on BJ Penn years ago when Penn wanted to go to K-1.

      • Mr. Roadblock says:

        You’re wrong on BJ example. BJ did fight in Japan and was stripped of the title. Then went and fought for his brother in Hawaii.

        • Chuck says:

          That’s right. I forgot that UFC TRIED to use the Champions Clause on BJ, but BJ took it to court. I guess they settled out of court, but yeah he did end up fighting in K-1.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          But the main point is that the UFC works in good faith to not use that clause. Which is what makes them the “good guys”. They don’t use that as a way to penalize fighters. They use it as a way to have a last line of defense if all else fails. Which is how it should be used.

          If Zuffa started getting in the policy of just rolling over contracts without any fair negotiations, then fans should be up in arms about such a practice.

        • mr. roadblock says:

          I’m late coming back to this and not to belabor the point. But, BJ won the title from Matt Hughes in February (this is off the top of my head forgive me if I’m wrong) and wanted a fight in the spring.

          This was back in the days of 6 UFC PPVs per year. UFC said they wouldn’t have a fight for him until late Summer. He said screw it and went to Japan.

          UFC stripped him of the belt and put it up between Matt Hughes and GSP.

          BJ sued to say he was still the champ and didn’t win.

          BJ fought in Japan (where he lost to Machida in a ludicrous fight) and in Hawaii.

          Then he came back to UFC and fought GSP for the first time.

          UFC didn’t try to keep him from working. That’s what the issue is here and it’s what the issue is with the championship clause as applied to Randy Couture. If I recall correctly the clause was in response to the BJ situation.

          In numerous no-compete lawsuits judges have gone with the employee who wants to find gainful employment. The entity (company) that says you signed a deal with us so you can’t work in x situation in n time period has a high bar to prove. As was the case with Brock beating the WWE to compete in MMA.

          If there’s a ‘bad guy’ it is the person or group trying to keep someone from working. In this case it appears to be Roy Jones Jr who is trying to interfere with Roy Nelson’s ability to compete in UFC.

          UFC fighters are very well paid. Zuffa makes a profit but they also take all of the financial risk. Yes, some of these guys have gotten paid more in WFA, Affliction, Bodog or other places. But , those place don’t seem to stay around long. That needs to be taken into the equation.

  3. Jonathan says:

    They’re number one so they can make any rules that they want to. That’s the reality. You’re either with the UFC or against them….and if you’re against them, f*ck you!

    That’s the mindset at least.

    Agree, disagree 45 Huddle?

  4. Zack says:

    Source that bigger stars get residuals from DVD/video games?

  5. mma clothing says:

    There is always going to be trouble about this sort of thing, cant keep everyone happy. But everyone should atleast get something!

  6. I don’t think Dana is lying, actually. He probably is a better guy than most boxing promoters. What he pays undercard guys is so much beyond what guys in that position make in boxing its amazing. He deserves credit, not hatred, for that.

    Where my issue has always come in is that I think he’s short changing guys on the top of the card; that special 5% that actually headline shows for him that people buy tickets for and PPVs of. Its not like they’re poor either but when you’re selling 1 million PPVs off just the headliners and they split like $6 million dollars, Zuffa is coming out way ahead on that no matter what they pay the rest of the card.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Pay naturally goes up over time. Happens in every sport. And we continue to see increases to fighter pay since 2005.

      Hypothetically, if the UFC could afford to pay out 40% of it’s revenues to fighters purses, it would be stupid to implement that so soon into their business cycle. That is something that will happen as the sport matures more. But every few years, we should be seeing the fighter pay get closer and closer to that 40%. If the pay starts to flatten out with no growth, then there is a problem.

      The other thing to keep in mind is matchmaking. If specific fighters are paid too much (like in boxing), it takes away from having any sort of respectable undercard or an event that has two title fights like UFC 125. So boxing pay can’t be what MMA fighters strive for. It would actually hurt the sport more.

      Additionally, there needs to be some minimum pay levels on all levels of fighters. From entry level to main eventers. If somebody competes in a title fight, there needs to be a minimum they should be making.

  7. EJ says:

    “Somehow, I’m not sure that UFC wants to get into a public relations war about their contracts given that they almost cut the guy who is their UFC Heavyweight champion (Cain Velasquez) because the front office reportedly wanted all of the American Kickboxing Academy fighters to assign their video gaming rights to Zuffa. Plus, there’s that thing called the ‘champion’s clause’ that exists, too.”

    Um, they already have twice and they won the PR war both times. Fitch and AKA got the message and Couture came back with his tail between his legs and the UFC didn’t lose a single fan in the process. Not to mention that in the end Dana is right compared to the boxing guys they are the good guys on all counts.

  8. David M says:

    I agree with Alan’s post on the top level guys getting underpaid. It is absurd that Lesnar is getting only 400k or whatever guaranteed; Pacquiao and Floyd are getting 8 figure minimums! Margarito got at least 3 million guaranteed for being Manny’s punching bag.

    45’s initial post about Dana and AKA is silly. You are basically missing the forest for the trees. Dana threatened he would never use anyone from AKA ever again because the AKA fighters wanted to have their likeness rights. Just because he gives under the table bonuses doesn’t mean he is some kind of saint. He is a bully, and he doesn’t want the fighters to have any kind of bargaining power.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Lesnar got $3 Million for his fight with Carwin.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Which is in line with what these guys should be getting paid at this point in the growth of MMA.

        Very very respectable. And nothing to complain about…

      • The Gaijin says:

        Thing is Lesnar was the Manny Pacquiao draw for that PPV (and all of his PPVs) and he got the guaranteed Margarito payout.

    • $3 million for 1 million + buys is a ridiculous value for the UFC. They made tens of millions of dollars that night easily.

      • EJ says:

        Well if he or anyone else doesn’t like it they can go somewhere else and try and earn that type of money. The UFC is a business they run things very well, we’ve seen what happens when you overpay for talent you go up. The current system in the UFC works great for everybody guys get paid what they are worth and the UFC continues to grow the sport.


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