UFC middleweight contender, Jared Cannonier appeared set to meet with most recent title challenger, Paulo Costa at a UFC Fight Night event on August 21. — however, last Saturday reports emerged detailing that Costa had withdrawn from the bout, before citing his displeasure with how underpaid MMA fighters are compared to YouTube content creators amid their recent influx into combat sports.

Cannonier, who suffered a fractured ulna in his last Octagon appearance at UFC 254 back in October on ‘Fight Island’ against former division champion, Robert Whittaker, is now expected to meet with former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum on short notice in August — with the latter replacing Costa for the second bout running. 

Belo Horizonte native, Costa responded to claims that he had withdrawn from the pairing, by suggesting that he had actually never officially signed a bout agreement to meet with the Texan on August 21. — before questioning how YouTubers like Jake and Logan Paul could earn significantly higher fight purses for both professional and exhibition boxing matches over the last two months than MMA fighters.

In response to those claims, UFC president, Dana White stated that he believes Costa did, in fact, sign to fight Cannonier, before claiming that the #2 ranked middleweight challenger was in no position to request “crazy money” off the back of his knockout loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 253 in September — describing the performance as “ridiculous, and horrible“”.

I don’t think that’s true, I think he did sign (to fight Cannonier) because we extended him — we extended his contract, for turning down the fight,” White said. “But, listen, don’t fight. I have to offer you three fights a year, this is my situation with all these guys. I offer you three fights a year — he doesn’t have to fight, no problem, don’t fight.

Guess what, you (Paulo Costa) should have started a YouTube channel when you were f*cking 13-years-old and built your name up and everything else. You could have had the fight on Saturday (Sunday) night (Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul) but you didn’t, you’re not a f*cking YouTuber, you’re a fighter, and this is what you do for a living — or you don’t. It’s up to you.

You’re (Costa) in no position to be talking about crazy money after your last performance, okay?” White continued. “So, you either want to fight or you don’t want to fight. No problem, you don’t wanna fight, you can hang out and do whatever you want. When you’re ready, you let me know. 

Giving his thoughts on the switch up in opponent and the reasoning surrounding the reshuffle, Cannonier explained that the argument surrounding fighter pay was common amongst fighter circles, before explaining that somebody needs to come forward in a bid to help mixed martial artists receive a higher percentage of generated revenue from promotions.

Well, I don’t know how much he’s (Paulo Costa) is getting paid per fight,” Cannonier said during a recent interview with Submission Radio. “MMA fighters, UFC fighters, MMA in general, fighters don’t get paid as much in comparison to the organizations or the promotions are getting paid. So, yeah, I mean, I understand the argument. I can’t hate on him or knock him or chastise him for having his stance. It’s a very bold stance to say, ‘I’m not gonna fight unless you guys pay me some more money.’ But, yeah, someone’s gotta fight for us fighters to get paid more.

Cannonier went on to suggest that Costa may even be removed from the official middleweight rankings as a consequence of his recent outburst against the UFC brass.

And I’m not gonna turn down a fatter paycheck either,” Cannonier explained. “So, it is what it is. It’s his (Costa’s) choice. With that being said, he has to be able to deal with the consequences of that, not fighting and maybe even losing his position (in the rankings). He’s ranked #2 right there. He’s just fought for the title (in September), so he’s right there. He can get right back in there with a few wins. But once you get a title fight, that’s when you start getting pay-per-view points, that’s when I hear the money starts rolling in. I wouldn’t know. I’m not there yet.

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.