Chael Sonnen Defends Dana White & UFC Fighter Pay


Former middleweight and light heavyweight title contender Chael Sonnen has come to the defense of his former employer when it comes to fighter pay.

The topic of fighter pay has been a hot button issue for some time in the MMA realm. Fans and fighters alike have been vocal about the athletes not receiving fair compensation from their promoters. This has been especially true when it comes to the UFC. It has been highlighted even more recently, after Logan and Jake Paul showed off the amount of money they’ve made transitioning into the fight game, which veterans of the sports struggle to make even a fraction of.

Jake Paul in particular has called out the UFC over it’s fighter pay, and even recently donated some of his own money to the GoFundMe of UFC women’s flyweight Sarah Alpar to pay for her training camp.

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However, in a video posted on his YouTube channel, Sonnen actually defended the UFC and it’s payment of fighter. ‘The American Gangster’ point out that when he made his debut in the UFC in 2005, he fought on the minimum contract of $2,000 to show, and another $2,000 to win. He points out that with the lowest tier contract now standing at $12,000 to show and $12,000 to win, the UFC has increased the minimum by six-times over the past 15 years. He says that alone is proof that the UFC is improving and leading the way (H/T Bloody Elbow).

“The person who believes fighters were exploited and fighters weren’t paid enough is Dana,” Sonnen said. “And they’re now trying to use the same argument that he brought forward and act as though he is doing something wrong. When I first fought in the UFC, the year was 2005. I was paid $2,000 to show and $2,000 to win. I could not believe how much money I had in my pocket when I got that check. $2,000 in 2005.”

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“The minimum pay right now is $12,000. The minimum now is six times as much. I will give two tickets to anybody who shows me any company in the world that is paying six times (more) right now than what it paid 15 years ago. If you can prove to me that they pay a minimum of six times what they paid a mere 15 years ago, I would get you two spectacular tickets to any UFC you would like to attend.”

Of course, Sonnen is conveniently leaving out that in 2005, the UFC was barely a fraction of what it is today. It was bought by White and company four years earlier for $2 million, and the first season of The Ultimate Fighter had just wrapped up a few months prior. The company has since sold for over $4 billion and has become a household name and product. One could also argue that even in 2005, he was still being comparatively underpaid.

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Still, Sonnen is correct that the UFC technically does pay it’s fighter more than any other MMA promotion. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, especially with the UFC reportedly taking an 80/20 split of the revenue.

What do you think about Chael Sonnen’s comments? Let us know!