UFC 291 was a night of major story-lines for the world’s largest MMA promotion. Justin Gaethje took out Dustin Poirier in the main event and likely cemented himself as the next lightweight title challenger in the process. Alex Pereira squeaked by Jan Blachowicz in the co-main to set up a potential light heavyweight title fight with former champ Jiri Prochazka in the not too distant future. And Derrick Lewis absolutely annihilated Marcos Rogerio de Lima to announce the end of his UFC contract and an uncertain future.
One of the storylines we didn’t get, however, was Stephen Thompson’s planned battle against Michel Pereira. After the Brazilian came in 3 pounds over the welterweight limit, Thompson declined a catchweight fight, pulling both men off the card. Unfortunately for Thompson, despite having made weight for the event, it also meant he walked away from Saturday’s fights without a paycheck.
Stephen Thompson still hopeful the Dana White will get him his ‘show’ money
First reported by MMA Junkie, ‘Wonderboy’ recently sat down with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour to confirm that he had not, in fact, been awarded his show purse for UFC 291. It was a somewhat surprising turn of events, considering that the UFC has often paid fighters the guaranteed half of their contract for showing up and making weight for their planned fight. Technically, Thompson was there and ready to go on fight night, it’s Pereira who failed to meet his contract agreement.
To hear Thompson tell it, however, the Upstate Karate standout sounds confident that he will get his money eventually. It may just be that UFC brass is waiting for Dana White to return from his vacation in Italy before pulling the trigger.
“At this point, my management is talking to the UFC, (but) nothing yet (compensation wise),” Thompson explained (transcript via MMA Junkie). “I know Dana White is on vacation. The guy is a workaholic, so well deserved, but I feel like the UFC is going to do right by me. I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to do, and I tried to be as honorable as possible when it comes down to signing my contract and abiding by it.
“I’ve done what they wanted of me, and I feel like they’re going to do right by me. Things are still in talks. I think they’re waiting for Dana White to come back from his vacation, and we’ll go from there.”
Thompson did add that he’d be “disappointed” with the UFC if they failed to compensate him for the scratched bout, adding that “it would really stink if that was the case,” but that he feels “they’re going to do right by me.”
UFC’s history of weigh-in/show money disputes
From the look of things, the UFC appears to handle every late notice cancellation on a case by case basis. Back in 2021, lightweight Drakkar Klose was on the receiving end of a weigh-ins shove from longtime action-fight standout Jeremy Stephens. As a result of the altercation, Klose suffered a severe neck injury that kept him out of competition for a year. Fortunately for him, he did at least get his show money for the weigh-ins fracas.
Even with the check, however, Klose didn’t sound terribly happy with his treatment from the UFC.
“There is a lot of other stuff that I will probably say when I’m done fighting but they pay me so I will keep my mouth shut,” Klose told Just Scrap Radio back in 2022. “They ended up giving me my show money but they never said anything to me. To me, it’s kind of ridiculous, he really fucked me up. I remember driving home from that fight and I was crying, I don’t know why I was crying but my head was so messed up. It’s a business for them, they don’t care it’s all numbers for them, when I’m gone someone else will be in my spot.”
Back in 2020, however, the promotion wasn’t nearly so generous. Still very much at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, UFC Vegas: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan saw twelve fight cancelled in the days leading up to the event, including a cancelled bout between Markus Perez and Eric Spicely after Spicely failed to weigh in and a cancelled bout between Kevin Holland and Trevin Giles after Giles fainted backstage on the night of the event. A fight between Gerald Meerschaert and Ed Herman also had to be cancelled on fight day after Meerschaert tested positive for COVID, and Ray Borg was removed from the card on weigh-in day for another in his long string of weight management issues.
The chaos left a whole slew of fighters suddenly without bouts at the very last minute. Unfortunately for them, however, the UFC wasn’t about to pay out show money, even for the fighters who already weighed in.
“These guys that didn’t fight tonight, they got paid some money and we’re trying to turn these guys around,” Dana White explained during a media scrum. “I think Holland’s gonna fight next week. They got paid some money, but didn’t get their show money, though.”
Nate Maness had to wait four months for his next fight, although the rest of the athletes who weighed in but did not get a bout that week were successfully re-booked for the immediate following weeks. Hopefully for Thompson, he finds the UFC in a generous mood, and doesn’t have to rely on a short notice re-booking to get paid.
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