While ESPN and UFC Executives have been going back and forth over the past week relating to an Outside the Lines feature from the sports’ network focused on fighter-pay in the UFC, some of the voices lost in the debate belong to the men who actually lay it all on the line inside the Octagon. While ESPN’s story featured input from Ken Shamrock and Ricco Rodriguez, neither man has fought under the Zuffa banner for more than five years and are not necessarily as in tune with the way things work in 2012 when compared to those currently calling the UFC home.
On that note, the UFC has released a video addressing ESPN’s claims with input from former champions Chuck Liddell, Matt Serra, and Forrest Griffin who defended their employers’. Liddell retired in 2010 after a storied career in the infamous eight-sided cage while Griffin and Serra are still on the organization’s roster.
“These guys that are just starting off in the UFC and they’re starting off with whatever number they’re starting off with, they have a good night and the next thing you know they’re getting a sick pay day,” said Serra. “And that opportunity is for a guy that’s been with them, like myself, for ten years or a guy that’s green and it’s his first time in there.”
As far as Griffin’s take, the original Ultimate Fighter winner explained, “The UFC has guys that technically they lose money on; that they’re paying $10-$15,000 to fight that nobody’s really watching. Nobody bought the PPV to see that guy, maybe like 300 people in his hometown if he’s lucky. But they’re paying that guy to get better, to keep fighting, because maybe he’ll catch on and be that next thing.”
“They’re putting an investment in all their guys, all of us. The UFC wants you to succeed,” he continued. “The more any fighter succeeds, they succeed. I mean even guys that aren’t making a fortune are making enough to where they don’t have another job and they can concentrate on getting better as a fighter so they can put themselves in a position to make good money.”
Check out the fighters’ version of things below in addition to more behind-the-scenes footage from Lorenzo Fertitta’s interview with ESPN: