Fertitta and White respond to Quarry remarks


Last week retired UFC middleweight Nate "Rock" Quarry received widespread attention for a post he made on the The UnderGround. Although he was widely quoted selectively by members of the MMA media, his message was in fact balanced, offering both thanks to his former employers as well as pointed criticism.

On the one hand, Quarry expressed disappointment with the UFC.

"After spending 10-15 years chasing your dream only to see that the company it's been your dream to fight for cares nothing about the fighters and only cares about the bottom line," he said.

However, there were grateful words as well.

"I love what the UFC has done for me and my family," said Quarry, adding "and specifically what Dana has done for me."

Among the bigger surprises of the post was that Quarry was paid only $10,000 for his title shot vs. Rich Franklin in 2005.

On top of the complaints around fighter pay, the UFC has been criticized the past few weeks over PED testing, fighter uniforms, and FightPass, among other issues.

While it is natural for fans to side with athletes over management, it has to be remembered that when Quarry made $10,000 for a title fight, ZUFFA was 44 million dollars in the hole. Quarry also later said that the UFC had paid for surgery that they were not obligated to, at a cost of $100,000.

Now, in an interview with Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole, ZUFFA CEO Lorenzo Fertitta responds.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta was clearly weary of discussing complaints about the company's business practices.

"This sport is in its infancy," said Fertitta. "And I'll admit that there is so much more to be done, but the media is focusing so much on the negative and there are far more positives out there in terms of what we have done for the sport and the fighters. You come to work every day and you kind of feel beaten down because it's something new [to complain about] every day."

"I'm not going to argue or counter every specific claim made by Nate Quarry on some website. I'm super proud of what we have done for our athletes, this sport and this company. Our track record is darn good as a whole and we have nothing to be embarrassed about.

"This fight Nate is talking about was so long ago and clearly the business wasn't where it is today. It was in its infancy and we were coming out of a period where we suffered millions upon millions in losses. It wasn't an insignificant amount of money. And I'll tell you this, Nate is a smart guy. Absolutely he is. He knew when he signed his contract exactly what he'd be paid."

In an interview with Iole, Quarry estimated that UFC fighters were paid just 1-2% of gross. Fertitta flatly denied the figure.

"That's not even close but I'm not going to go into specifics about it," said Fertitta. "I'm interested in how Nate Quarry knows so much about our business that he can say that. As I said earlier, though, fighter compensation has increased multiples upon multiples since we've gotten into the business and built it up to where it is today.

"We're very proud of what our athletes make. Granted, back in 2004, 2005, it was a different world. We weren't getting the revenues back then that we are today. We feel the fighters are getting their fair share, if not more."

"[Fighter payroll] has gone up significantly, and though I don't have it at the tip of my fingers, I can tell you it's gone up faster than the percentage of revenue growth. Fighter comp is growing at a faster rate than revenues."

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During Thursday's pre fight media event, UFC president Dana White addressed the issue as well.

"I like Nate Quarry," said White, as transcribed bytFOXSports. "Let me tell you what, you're never going to hear me say anything negative about any of those guys from season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter. I f---ing love all those guys, I respect them. I've always had a great relationship with Nate Quarry.

"Lorenzo said it the best, It's unfortunate that Nate fought at a time when we were still $44 million in the hole, you know? The sport has evolved so much since then. It's easy to look back and go 'they invested $44 million and this thing's worth a few billion.' Easy to say that now. But back then? ... It was so close to being shut down and going away. There was a time I was like, we're never, f--- ever get that $44 million back. It's never going to happen. There was a time when I absolutely believed that."

White also blunty addressed Quarry's concerns about the dramatically increased difficulty in fighters getting sponsorships, particularly with fights that are shown on FightPass.

"It's not my f---ing problem," said White. "Getting sponsorship is a problem. It's tough. it's hard to do. That question is ridiculous. If a guy fights on Fight Pass, first of all, he's getting paid to fight. That's what he's getting paid for. That's what he does. How sponsorship works out for a guy is not my problem. That is not my problem. He's a fighter, he gets paid to fight, period, end of story. Whatever extra money he makes outside of the UFC with sponsors and all that s---, that's his f---ing deal."

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Recent Comments »

RockyBullwinkle site profile image  

2/22/14 1:23 PM by RockyBullwinkle

Kind of agree but a couple points. The best non-NBA players aren't in the D-league they're playing in the many overseas leagues that pay relatively well. And many D-leaguers are also NBA players that were moved down and are still geting paid their team salaries.My problem is your mostly right that there are too many fighters in the UFC and it's watered down what it means to be a UFC fighter.

The Sultan site profile image  

2/22/14 12:33 PM by The Sultan

Yea they own the footage. They should still be able to use it

raoullduke site profile image  

2/22/14 9:23 AM by raoullduke

Poor Lorenzo. Feels beaten down at work every day. Must be hard being figuratively beaten down daily, and only having billions of dollars to show for it. Cunt.

time traveling 12er site profile image  

2/22/14 7:57 AM by time traveling 12er

D-league is far away from entry level.  Most of the guys there were probably considered studs where they came from.  Being the superbowl of MMA doesn't mean there aren't lower level fighters in the org.  It doesn't make sense to keep saying that as if it means we have to pretend everyone is elite and deserves to be rich.  Read any thread on any card on this board and you'll see post after post of people complaining how bad the lower level fighters are and how they're not worth paying for.   You ever complain about watered down cards?  Is that because there's so much elite talent on it?  Lol.  Like I said it's harder to get into the d-league than it is to get on a UFC undercard.  People don't take up basketball for four years as a hobby then end up in the NBA or the D-league.  D-leaguers are not 0-0 guys, they're elite basketball players that have been training the majority of their lives.  If any comparison is unfair it's that bottom of the barrell entry level fighters in the UFC are as good as d-league players. 

Macedawgg site profile image  

2/22/14 7:32 AM by Macedawgg

But the prelim fighters are not 0-0, 2-0, 1-0, 2-1 type fighters.  The UFC has approximately 400 fighters under contract--as does the NBA.  The UFC bills itself as the "Superbowl" of MMA.  It isn't for entry level. . . So again, the NBA D-League is the equivalent of KOTC--not the UFC.

time traveling 12er site profile image  

2/22/14 7:24 AM by time traveling 12er

It's not comparing the UFC to the D-League, it's comparing the pre-lim fighters with the D-league since we're talking about minimum pay and the gap between money made and money paid.  They basically serve the same purpose, internally develop talent.  They both work for the company but one is shown on major tv and the other is only shown on it's own cable network.  KOTC isn't owned by the UFC so how much the UFC makes is meaningless.  The D-league is owned by the NBA, it's a part of it.  Teams send people down that are currently on major team contracts and they pick people up.  Considering how much the league makes and the fact that each d-league team is associated with several teams, the disparity from revenue to pay is way bigger than the UFC.  11k for 9 months of work.  They work longer and get paid less than pre-limmers.  Even when you consider they they get dorms and 150 per diem when they play, that's hourly probably below minimum wage.  The maximum pay is still only 27k.  It's also harder to get on an NBA D-league team than it is to make it to a random pre-lim on a UFC card.  You train longer and likely have attained a higher level in your sport to get there.  That's a league with a union too. 

Macedawgg site profile image  

2/22/14 6:21 AM by Macedawgg

Wow--two threads in a row.  I'm curious Blazing Knees--why did you omit Boxing--the closest, most comparable sport to MMA that exists? And LOL at comparing the NBA D-League to the UFC.  The comparison to the D-League would be your local KOTC event.

Blazing Knees site profile image  

2/22/14 6:16 AM by Blazing Knees

You can't compare mega billion dollar pro team franchises to an individual sport like fighting.   Pro tennis players, pro golfers-pro cyclist, etc-where the competition is one on one or one against many-that's the only way to compare rate of pay of these pro atheletes-

time traveling 12er site profile image  

2/22/14 5:18 AM by time traveling 12er

The league minimum is around 14k.  That's the minimum pay for a d-league player, which is their developmental league.  Owned by the NBA and funded with NBA dollars.  Which is basically the equivalent of unaired pre lim fighters.  For the guys that make 500k minimum they play 82 games a season and work for their team probably about ten months out of the year.  Bench players go to every single game and participate in mandatory team practices during days there are no games.  They get maybe one day off every other week.  It's not a fair comparison and pre-lim fighters have it waaaay better than de-league players in the NBA.  They fight on 1-3 cards a year and have two month training camps for each.  When they're not working they're free to run their own schools or whatever it is they want to make money other than fighting.   That's maybe two to three times a year they're generating money for their league.  But they deseve to be paid how much?   It's a terrible comparison.

Mynameisburns site profile image  

2/22/14 4:38 AM by Mynameisburns

I think Nate has some sour grapes here. He had a relatively short fight career due to injuries etc. He had potential to be one of the big money makers. UFC even paid for his surgery which cost a cool 100,000. And who expected Jorge Rivera to decimate Nate?