UFC president Dana White was taken to task by “The MMA Hour” host Ariel Helwani for hinting that he didn’t increase fighter pay for multiple UFC 279 combatants.
The promotion’s president was forced to reshuffle the final three fights of UFC 279 a day before the September 10th event after headliner Khamzat Chimaev missed weight by nearly eight pounds.
Chimaev, who was set to fight Nate Diaz at welterweight, was moved down to the co-main event where he battled Kevin Holland at a 180-pound catchweight. Tony Ferguson was elevated to the top of the card and fought Diaz. Holland’s original opponent Daniel Rodriguez and Ferguson’s original opponent Li Jingliang were also linked together for a scrap on the main card.
During the UFC 279 post-fight press conference, White was asked about the fighters receiving extra compensation for taking contests on extremely short notice. However, White hinted that none of the combatants earned anything extra as they “all have deals.”
Well, on Monday’s episode of “The MMA Hour,” Helwani went off on White, stating that the six fighters did in fact receive extra pay to remain on the card. In short, the renowned MMA journalist theorized White made the comment to avoid setting a precedent of fighters receiving more compensation for taking on short-notice assignments.
“Don’t believe for a second what was said on Saturday about nobody getting paid (extra). Of course they got paid,” Helwani said (h/t MMA News). “Every single one of those guys, all five of them, got paid, except for Khamzat, which makes sense. I don’t understand, I don’t like it. It makes you (White) come across like an a**hole if you sit there and be like, ‘Nope, they got contracts. They got contracts and we didn’t pay anyone an extra dime.’ What? You didn’t pay pro fighters an extra dime for changing opponents on 24 hours’ notice?
“These are pro fighters who trained for different opponents — southpaws, orthodox, wrestlers, strikers — and because you don’t want to put out the precedent to other fighters to ask for money, that just makes you look bad. At what cost? So that no one calls you up next time this happens and says, ‘Hey, you gave Tony Ferguson more money, you need to give me more money.’ I would be celebrating that!” Helwani added. “I would be saying, ‘Yeah, of course we took care of these guys. Of course we helped them out. Of course we looked out for them.’ They all got paid.”
Diaz, one of mixed martial art’s biggest superstars, successfully finished his UFC contract on top. He defeated his fellow UFC legend, Ferguson, during the night’s main event via fourth-round guillotine choke.
After the fight, Diaz spoke with UFC commentator Joe Rogan inside the Octagon and confirmed that he’d be moving on from the promotion — for now — to compete in select martial arts disciplines.
For Chimaev, he dominated Holland en route to a first-round D’Arce choke victory. And Rodriguez edged out Jingliang on the scorecards, winning a split decision.