Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title holder Robert Whittaker believes the series’ fighters are “sorely underpaid”.
The New Zealand-born Australian told the Sydney Morning Herald that the UFC, as the biggest name in mixed martial arts (MMA), effectively has a monopoly on the combat sport and they can therefore choose whatever they want to pay their athletes.
Whittaker insists that he and his fellow UFC fighters are “sorely underpaid for what we do”.
He added, “It’s just one of those things when UFC has monopolised the whole sport and if you want to make it in the field you have to fight with the UFC.
“When they’re the only ones that own the sport, they can pay you what they like.”
Despite being the reigning champion in his weight division, Whittaker is not one of the more popular figures with UFC fans, and his pay-per-view buys have not matched the numbers of more high-profile athletes such as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.
Whittaker has explained that popularity has a big impact on fighters’ earnings in the UFC, and one could almost argue that skills don’t matter as much as public perception.
“Every fighter has to negotiate his own contract with the UFC,” he said. “The more popular you are, the more leverage you have with them.”
Whittaker will be in action early tomorrow morning as he faces Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC 234, which will be held at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.