Ariel Helwani is one of the few MMA journalists that has spoken out against the UFC. Helwani has long been blacklisted by Dana White and no longer attends press confrences and isn’t allowed backstage if White is in the building.
Helwani is a big fighter pay advocate. In his latest plea to rectify the situation, the Canadian-American has targeted Endeavor CFO Jason Lublin, who recently defended the UFC’s income split with the athletes.
Lublin rejected the need for increased fighter pay during an Endeavor earnings call on May 12 due to the erroneous comparison despite the fact UFC had the most lucrative year to date.
According to the Endeavour CFO, because MMA is an individual sport, the UFC’s income share should be compared to F1 and NASCAR, The revenue share should not be compared with the MLB, NFL, and NBA.
After Lublin’s comments were made public, the MMA community started to criticize his comparisons to Formula One and NASCAR.
“Let me ask you this. When a PGA star, an F1 star, a NASCAR star, and a tennis star, when they are competing, what are they wearing?”
“Are they wearing a uniform? Or are they wearing stuff head to toe, hat, shirt, pants, shoes, gloves, whatever, that is sponsored? That they are making money off of. Because I can ensure you who ain’t doing that, the UFC fighter.”
Helwani continued his outburst by asking the following question.
“So, if we’re going to compare the UFC fighter, the individual athlete, to the individual athletes in those leagues and those sports, riddle me this, why can they not wear whatever they want? Why can they not have sponsors on their gear?”
Helwani started discussing potential UFC similarities after trashing Lublin’s comments.
He continued, “You know who they should be compared to? WWE wrestlers. That’s who they should be compared to. That’s the closest comparison.”
“They don’t have collective bargaining, they can’t wear sponsors, they are pretty limited to what they can do inside the ring or cage. That’s the closest comparison.”
The necessity for a solution is becoming clear as the problem of fighter pay continues to increase. Fighters in the UFC still get 16 to 20 percent of the earnings an event generates, with minimal prospects for sponsorship money.
The problem of fighter pay must be resolved swiftly. Individual sponsorships would certainly alter things. However, the UFC is far too greedy to let anyone cash in on the side – after all if they did then the strategy of benching athletes in order to deprive them of income, would stop working.