Sean O’Malley questions UFC fighter pay: Why do they have a problem paying someone what they’re worth?

O'Malley
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC

UFC bantamweight contender, Sean O’Malley has become the latest high-profile figure to question the promotion’s fighter pay structure, questioning why it’s an issue for the organization to sufficiently compensate a fighter what they are worth. 

Last week, UFC president, Dana White reacted to promotional strawweight, Cheyanne Buys’ financial struggle and situation — which saw her and her partner leave their home in Dallas along with their pets in a bid to continue and fund her career.

The Florida native explained how she had taken out multiple loans in a bid to compete against Gloria de Paula, and how here bank account was currently in a negative state. Footage emerged of Buys backstage post-fight, where she broke down in tears after she had learned that her first round knockout victory had earned her a Performance of the Night bonus. 

Many within the mixed martial arts community voiced their dismay that Buys was forced to rely on a post-fight bonus in a bid to pay off her debts and loan, with White explaining how the Contender Series prospect was only starting off in her career, and that if she wins, then everything would be good.

There’s a lot of people on their way up, she’s (Cheyanne Buys) on her way up, — that are broke, struggling, trying to make it,” White replied when asked if her financial situation was a bad look for the UFC. “And I’d say — but the flipside to that is, she’s 1-1 in the UFC and she’s made, what, eighty grand in the last six months?

Listen, you gotta go out — this is one of those sports (where) you gotta win, if you win, everything’s good, if you lose, everything’s bad. That’s the nature of this beast.

Off the back of claims that UFC matchmaker, Sean Shelby was “mad” at him for turning down a fight to feature on the November 4. UFC 268 pay-per-view card, bantamweight striker, O’Malley questioned why the promotion appears to have an issue with compensating their roster of fighters sufficiently.

They (the UFC) don’t need me,” O’Malley said on his podcast recently. “The UFC would be 100% fine without me. If they want another huge, giant star, I could fill that role for sure, but they don’t need me. But don’t treat me like that. Like, act like I’m not training or nothing. ‘Go, you’re hanging out with 6ix9ine, dude.’ Like, I’ve hung out with him once. Well, three days. But yeah, so, it’s like, cool, dude. Treat me like a piece of sh*t. No, it’s like, dude, I would rather not deal with him (Sean Shelby) at all and just deal with Dana (White).

‘I know you’re gonna be asking for a lot of money.’ No sh*t!” O’Malley said. “I’m pulling f*cking numbers, you can’t deny that. Why do they (the UFC) have a problem paying someone what they’re worth? That shouldn’t be an issue. That should be, like — especially when I’m blowing up like that. Those last two fights, third round finishes, handing out brain damage. You should be like, ‘Hell yeah, I’m gonna pay you a lot. You earned it.’ Dude, I was UFC 264.” (H/T MMA Fighting)

O’Malley’s recent questioning of fighter pay adds to a list of other high-profile fighters who have expressed displeasure in the past.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones recently explaining how he would require sufficient compensation to score a heavyweight title fight with Francis Ngannou. 

Voicing his displeasure with the promotion’s fighter payment scheme, former middleweight title challenger, Paulo Costa insisted that he had never signed a bout agreement to meet with Jared Cannonier. And questioned how YouTubers like Jake and Logan Paul could earn significantly higher fight purses for professional and exhibition boxing matches.

Cannonier himself would go on to explain how someone within the sport needs to advocate and help fighters establish a union in order to receive a higher and fair percentage of revenue from promoters and promotions. 

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