UFC fighters cry foul after boss Dana White gives YouTuber $250K birthday gift

Source: globalnews.ca : 2022-07-13 17:20:00 : Michelle Butterfield

UFC fighters are crying foul after boss Dana White gifted a YouTuber US$250,000 for his birthday but remains mum on the issue of fighter pay.

The MMA kingpin was captured on video presenting YouTube vlogger Kyle Forgeard with a quarter of a million dollars in cash for his 28th birthday. Forgeard is one of the founders of Nelk, a popular YouTube channel and entertainment company that produces viral content for social media.

In the footage, filmed at a restaurant where the two men were dining together, Forgeard can be heard saying “what the f—” as he opens a present that contains a bag thick with bills.

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Nelk has millions of fans and followers across social media and has recently been working with White and the UFC as a sponsor. Nelk’s founders have longstanding friendships with White.

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And while incredibly generous, the gift was a flop with some past and current UFC fighters who have been grappling with White for better pay.

Current UFC champ Aljamain Sterling tweeted that he “can’t wait to see what Dana gets me” for his upcoming birthday on July 31.

Fighter Jon Fitch didn’t mince words on the matter, tweeting “He’s giving away the money he stole from fighters.”

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Dan Hardy suggested that perhaps all of the UFC’s top fighters should also be awarded such sums.

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Louis Smolka threw out the idea of starting a UFC union, adding in a subsequent tweet that White let him down after promising a big payout for his debut fight.

“I got excited thinking I was getting one of those big locker room bonuses,” Smolka wrote. “They sent me 10k. To this day that is the most I have ever gotten.”

Some MMA fans have jumped to White’s defence, however, saying the UFC boss can spend his money in whatever way he sees fit.

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Others pointed out that it was White’s personal money doled out to Forgeard, not UFC money.

Lower-ranked fighters have often spoken about struggling to make ends meet in the UFC, saying White’s payouts do little to cover training costs, management expenses and taxes.

The UFC’s revenue split offers its fighters an approximate 18 per cent payout of the total revenue made from the promotion each year. It’s a fraction of what other professional sports leagues distribute to their athletes.

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No one has been more critical of the luxe gift, perhaps, than Jake Paul, a YouTuber-turned-boxer who’s long challenged White to up fighter pay packets.

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In an interview with WFAN radio, Paul called White “greedy” and a “scumbag,” telling White to “take a hard look in the mirror.”

“How could you do that to your fighter? You’re giving a birthday gift to someone but your own flyweight champion (Deiveson Figueiredo), you can’t pay him enough and there’s no healthcare for his fighters,” Paul said.

“People are really starting to see how greedy this guy is, people are really starting to see that these fighters are underpaid. There’s got to be some change made here and the more we talk about it, the more we raise awareness and the more we fight back, the more pressure they’re going to be under to pay their fighters more.

“But it sucks, I feel bad for the flyweight champion. Dana White, if you’re listening to this, bro, you really need to re-evaluate yourself and take a hard look in the mirror.”

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White and Paul have an acrimonious relationship, often sparring on social media. Earlier this year, Paul posted a list of “demands” of White, which included upping the minimum pay per fight to $50,000, and providing long-term healthcare for retired fighters.

Paul also encouraged UFC fighters to “take a stand and create value for yourselves and peers.”

“You deserve higher pay, you deserve long term healthcare and above all you deserve freedom,” he wrote.

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