Rockhold has spoken multiple times about the issue of fighter pay in the lead-up to his return against Paulo Costa this weekend. He has most recently criticized the UFC for their bonus structure and lack of healthcare, unhappy with the fact the promotion has never increased the performance prizes despite massive year-on-year growth since their introduction.
“The valuation of the company’s going up fucking billions of dollars and we’re still stuck on $50,000 bonus checks? What the fuck is this? People need to wake up,” Rockhold told the media earlier this week.
“Our lives are on the fucking line. Healthcare needs to be taken care of. Our fucking health needs to be taken care of. Mine has not been taken care of,” he said of the UFC not providing health insurance for their fighters. “There’s a lot of things that need to fucking change. I’m just not going to be scared to say it.”
Luke Rockhold just *went off* on UFC fighter pay, bonus structure and health care at #UFC278 media day. 🗣️
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) August 17, 2022
Leading the charge on the increasingly prominent issue of fighter pay is current heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Ngannou has been involved in somewhat of a public feud with Dana White since he complained about his contract last year. When Ngannou defended his title against Ciryl Gane in January, White did not appear in the octagon to present the belt as is tradition.
Ngannou responded to Rockhold’s remarks on social media.
“Listening to Luke’s interview was very pertinent. A lot of things that nobody is talking about and the company just rolls with it,” he said.
Most of Ngannou’s past criticism of the UFC was centered around their lack of avenues for athletes to make money besides their fight purse. He continued to address these same issues.
“Fighters are ripped off with sponsorship. It’s a huge source of revenue for us but the company keeps exploiting that for their own benefit,” Ngannou restated. “I understand that the sport needs to look good with uniforms but we should at least have a right for a minimum of two approved sponsors for in the octagon.”
Fighters are ripped off with Sponsorship. It’s a huge source of revenue for us but the company keeps exploiting that for their own benefit.
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) August 17, 2022
“Last year I lost a deal of over a million dollars from a crypto exchange because the partnership with CRYPTO.COM. What do I got from it?”
“Inflation is up,” he finished.
Ngannou’s reaffirmation of his stance on the UFC pay structure will likely fuel further rumors of his imminent departure from the company in pursuit of bigger paydays elsewhere. As for Rockhold, it seems unlikely that the soon-to-be 38-year-old will see drastic changes before his fighting days are over.