UFC champ claims promotion censored him for revealing low fighter pay

Reigning middleweight champion Sean Strickland cries foul after alleged censorship by the UFC for fighter pay talk.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 1 month ago
UFC champ claims promotion censored him for revealing low fighter pay

Reigning undisputed middleweight champion Sean Strickland always spoke his mind. And one of his recent moments of candor may have urged the UFC to take action against him. At least, that’s according to his insinuations. 

The said moment happened during a recent ‘Extra Rounds LIVE’ broadcast via the UFC Fight Pass YouTube channel, with Strickland, host T.J. DeSantis, and Hall of Famer Don Frye in the panel. 

Don’t become a fighter: UFC champ talks about harsh realities

Sean Strickland came with his usual anecdotes, this time involving a man who supposedly approached him about having a son with the same fighter aspirations. 

“It’s funny, this guy came up to me, and he said, ‘Hey, you know, my son’s 17, he trains, he wants to be a fighter. Do you have any advice?’ he said (quotes by MMA Fighting). 

“Tarzan” didn’t hold back with the honesty. 

“I said, ‘Don’t do it.’ He goes, ‘What do you mean?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, let me explain to you, sir.’ Let me explain if you guys have kids at home who want to be a fighter. Let me explain to you the joy of being an MMA fighter. 

“I was like, ‘You see the Contender [Series fighters], what do you think they make?’ And he goes, ‘I don’t know.’ I go, ‘They make five and five. If they lose, they make five.’ 

“And he goes, ‘Damn.’ I go, ‘If you lose, guess what, you’re not going to UFC.’ So this entire life you could have spent building a life, doing any other aspect in life, you chose to train fighting.”

UFC 293 SYDNEY, Sean Strickland of the USA reacts after defeating Israel Adesanya of Nigeria during the Middleweight Title bout of UFC 293 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Sunday, September 10, 2023. ( !ACHTUNG: NUR REDAKTIONELLE NUTZUNG, KEINE ARCHIVIERUNG UND KEINE BUCHNUTZUNG! SYDNEY NEW SOUTH WALES AUSTRALIA PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxAUSxNZLxPNGxFIJxVANxSOLxTGA 20230910001839938612

Strickland goes into detail about low UFC fighter pay

The 32-year-old fighter then went into detail about the earnings of the average UFC fighter. 

“So let’s just say you make it now you make it to the UFC. Well, hey, guess what, what do you think they sign the average guy on? … Ten and 10 for this man. 

“So you make it to UFC, you get signed, 10 and 10, and now you fight for 10 and 10, and you’ve spent your entire life working for this one goal. You get the blue check mark, you get the UFC in your logo, you get all the people, you get all of it now. 

“So you go 2-2, and maybe they’re boring fights, and the UFC cuts you, and now guess what? You have made a total of … $60,000 your entire career, and you have no other option because you can’t be a part-time fighter. You’ve got to be full-time. 

“So now you’re a 24-year-old man looking yourself in the mirror saying, ‘I spent my entire life doing this one thing and I’ve made $24,000, or $60,000. What do I do now? You go teach cardio kickboxing.”

‘You sell your f–ng soul for it’

Sean Strickland once famously compared his chosen profession with sex work, saying UFC fighters ‘are prostitutes.’ He explains why:

“I’m a f—ng prostitute. I take my f—ng clothes off, Dana says go fight that guy. I’m like, ‘alright, Dana. How much?’ And he gives me a number, and I’m like, ‘F—k it, let’s go, Dana! I’ll fight that motherf—r!’

“I’m not disillusioned with what I am.”

He offered a similar sentiment during the broadcast with DeSantis and Frye. 

“That’s, like, the damn shame of like most industries. It’s like you get kind of Weinstein-d. They put this big old f–ng UFC logo — and again, I love UFC, guys. I make more money in the UFC than f–ng, I mean, I am not a poor man, you guys. 

“I would be in the rich category, which still f–ng shocks me every time I think about it. But they put this big old f–ng logo and you sell your f–ng soul for it. You sell your f–ng soul for it, man.”

Sean Strickland thinks UFC censored him

Sean Strickland then posed this question: “How many people in this sport end up not being poor after they’re done?” He then mentioned the possibility of his speech getting cut off from the broadcast. He was able to get a few more words in before his mic indeed went silent. 

Strickland posted the clip on his Instagram page, showing the moment his mic cut off. 

“We’re not talking about, ‘Hey, I was in the NFL, I got paid millions of dollars, and I went and gambled on drugs and hookers.’ That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking on, I made $60,000. Now, what’s next? So when we talk about how much Don Fry made and goddamn, it’s shocking and how much most guys make.”

What’s on the horizon for Sean Strickland? 

As the man at the top of the 185-pound division, Sean Strickland has a huge target on his back. One of those wanting a piece of him is undefeated fan-favorite Khamzat Chimaev, who won his title eliminator bout against Kamaru Usman at UFC 294. 

Strickland, however, feels “Borz” isn’t deserving of a title shot. The two have since engaged in a trade of words, but a fight likely isn’t materializing anytime soon after a recent revelation of a torn ligament in Chimaev’s right hand. 

For now, Sean Strickland gets to enjoy his title reign, as he holds a record of 28-5. 

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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