ESPN recently did a piece questioning fighter pay in the UFC. A central element to the story was an interview with UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock that painted a grim image of fighter pay in the organization.
However, Ken Shamrock recently lost a law suit against the UFC, and the judge ordered him to repay court costs in the amount of $175,000. Further, Shamrock brought the suit not because he wanted to avoid an onerous contract with the UFC, but because he wanted to fight for the organization. In a move that reveals an astonighing lack of journalistic integrity, none of this was mentioned in the show.
The ESPN piece's sensational point that everyone was too frightened to publicly criticise the company was undermined when Monte Cox, the most successful manager in the sport's history, came on and criticized the company.
Whatever the merits of the arguments for and against fighter pay in the UFC, this was fatally flawed journalism, and may have muddied intelligent discusson of the subject for quite some time.
A number of fighters from all levels in the organization responded by detailing their pay, which was higher than previously understood.
UFC President Dana White responded characteristically. It is safe to bet that the Shamrocks and the Whites will not be exchanging Christmas cards come December.
"They had to dig so deep they had to find Ken Shamrock," White said. "The guy who ends up getting busted for steroids three times after he leaves the UFC ... I think Ken Shamrock is a horrible f------ human being."
"Ken Shamrock filed a bogus lawsuit against us and lost. He owes us that money ... Ken Shamrock, when I brought him over, he was broke – flat f------ broke. He was in income-tax trouble. His knee was shot. I rebuilt his knee. I got him out of income-tax trouble, fronted him a s----load of money. We gave him money – literally gave him money – $60,000, just to get him back on his feet. You know how much money he made in the two fights he fought with us? $2.5 million ... F--- you Ken Shamrock."
Now Shamrock responds, via KenShamrock.com.
"I will always be grateful for the opportunities MMA and wrestling have brought me. This would include the incredible experiences presented by the UFC.
"ESPN asked me to provide comments for their OTL piece on MMA fighter pay and I gave my honest opinion on what I feel is an important part of the sport both past and future. I take being the first UFC Champion and UFC Hall of Famer as a responsibility; and I worry about our legacy. The sport is
new and in many ways we still have growing to do.
"I stand by what I said. UFC has, good or bad, boxed out other competition. As a result, there are very few options for MMA fighters to make a living without working as fighters for UFC’s parent company, the ZUFFA Corporation. That’s why over 20 fighters that ESPN interviewed could not go on record for fear of losing favor with UFC. It is true that they pay the upper tier fighters well. I was one of the first to realize that kind of pay. I can appreciate the fighters Dana and Lorenzo cited with video clips, but they are not the fighters I was referring my comments to. I do feel there should be more transparency in reporting of fight gates and actual Pay Per Views. Yes, Lorenzo’s statements are true. You do have the right to audit; the problems arises when you ask for the audit.
"Dana White’s response about me was just way over the top, and included several slanderous statements about me that where straight out lies. He said I failed 3 drug tests, and that is a lie. He said I owe him money, but I don’t owe Dana White anything. Dana and Lorenzo both know these statement are untrue.
"Why did Dana have to mention anything about my knee. This has absolutely nothing to do with the interview. Dana White wanted me to fight for him, but I had a knee problem and wasn’t ready to fight. The truth is that my knee surgery was paid through my contract, out of what I earned. Dana insisted he needed me because UFC was dying and needed me to boost PPV’s. I came back sooner then I should have after the surgery. No regrets there on my part.
"The fans are too smart to buy into this idea that UFC pays up to 50% to the fighters. I’m not a mathematician, but when they claim that the UFC is now the most valuable franchise in sports, the numbers do not add up. In the interview they said they paid out a quarter billion to fighters over the years but 50% means that the UFC ought to be dolling out closer to a $1 billion. Seems like the UFC fighters are getting short changed.
"Lastly, this is typical of how Dana White responds to criticism – he deflects things and exaggerates with straight out lies. I can not understand why Dana feels the need to bad mouth me. In the end, it’s just disrespectful and slanderous to the FANS who love and support our sport."