Dana White’s $500,000 cheque signing for WWE star on UFC debut stunned decorated former champ

Exploring the complex issue of UFC fighter pay, with insights from Demetrious Johnson and Aljamain Sterling on the influence of popularity over earnings in mixed martial arts.

Dana White’s $500,000 cheque signing for WWE star on UFC debut stunned decorated former champ

Dana White (Image via: IMAGO)

Fighter pay is a big issue in MMA, especially in the UFC. Dana White and the UFC are currently facing a class action lawsuit filed by former fighters. The documents made public by the court surprised the MMA community. The pay of fighters even that of superstars like Conor McGregor, was lower than expected. Former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson talked about the pay disparity recently.

Aljamain Sterling was a recent guest on the MIGHTYcast podcast. During the podcast, the topic of fighter remuneration came up. Johnson at the moment talked about the high purse that WWE star CM Punk made in his UFC debut. This is what he said.

His(CM Punk) first time fighting in the UFC, he made $500,000. I have no idea why. I don't know who the hell convinced Dana White to sign that check. And then he fought again, fought Mike, he fought Mickey Gall and made another $500,000 for his second loss in mixed martial arts. So, it's all about a popularity contest.
Demetrious Johnson via MIGHTYcast podcast

Johnson has the UFC record for the most consecutive title defenses. However, the UFC did not pay him accordingly. When he was the champion, his contract was $125,000 to show and $50,000 to win. Moreover, the UFC did not give him PPV points, which is how champions make the most money. Aljamain Sterling agreed with Johnson’s conclusion that fighter pay is based on popularity.

Johnson is now the flyweight champion at One Championship. He left the UFC after he lost the title to Henry Cejudo. When Johnson was the champion, the flyweight division was stagnant due to his dominance. However, the new breed of flyweights has made the division very exciting. The UFC flyweight title will be on the line at UFC 296 when champion Alexandre Pantoja defends the title against Brandon Royval.

Dana White subtly divert reason for the UFC Fight Night 233 shift from Shanghai to UFC Apex

The upcoming UFC Fight Night 233 was supposed to be the UFC’s second visit to Shanghai. However, the UFC moved the event from Shanghai to UFC Apex in mid-November for undisclosed reasons. Song Yadong and Chris Gutierrez headline the event.

Dana White
Dana White (Image via: IMAGO)

During the post-fight press conference of UFC Austin, a reporter asked White about the reason for the shift. This is what Dana White replied:

It's something that went on over in China, and we ended up moving it to the Apex. Nothing catastrophic or worth talking about.
Dana White via UFC Austin post-fight press conference

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Chinese sentiment in the US is very high. Moreover, Dana White’s close friend, Donald Trump is a big critic of the Chinese Communist Party and their governance. Nevertheless, White’s refusal to clarify the reason for the shift remains unknown.

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