An increase of upset high profile UFC fighters over the business side of things could mean changes are on the horizon.
The argument on fighter pay, rankings, and opponent selection has been a common theme in recent memory. One of the biggest ongoing stories right now involves longtime featherweight champion, Jose Aldo. Aldo has claimed that he is done with MMA regardless if he gets his desired rematch against Conor McGregor. Dana White calmly stated that the two parties will come to a compromise even though Aldo has threatened legal action in order to be relieved of his contractual duties. Jose Aldo has had gripes against the UFC in the past so it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear of how upset he is over the UFC passing him up in favor of lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez. What does come as a surprise is Aldo stating that he is done with MMA and would like to try his hand at another sport. Whether or not he goes through with his new venture remains to be seen.
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s anger stems from being passed up for a title shot against Alvarez in favor of McGregor. Nurmagomedov has stated that he plans on never fighting for the UFC again if he does not get awarded a title shot following a victory over Michael Johnson at UFC 205. Strong words from the undefeated lightweight indeed. Nurmagomedov also revealed that he signed two contracts to fight Alvarez, one for UFC 205 and the other for UFC 206. His displeasure with being “used” by the UFC led Dana and company to make up for it by offering him Johnson in November. It’s going to be interesting to see how everything unfolds post UFC 205, let alone UFC 205 itself.
Former bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw has expressed frustration over not getting an immediate rematch against Dominick Cruz following their affair in January, which resulted in him taking a close decision loss. Dillashaw publicly stated that behind closed doors both White and Fertitta told him they felt he won the fight. Dillashaw’s chances of a rematch against Cruz appeared probable following his win over Raphael Asunciao UFC 200, but with Cody Garbrandt’s stock now at an all time high, it seems like he is next in line. The verbal barbs between both Cruz and Garbrandt has played a major role in sparking interest for the potential match up. This very aspect is one that Dillashaw has taken issue with since he feels mixed martial arts is not being represented correctly and fighters are instead being rewarded for trash talking their opponents in an attempt to escalate drama and ticket sales. Dillashaw’s refusal to “play the game” is unlikely to help his chances of earning a rematch against Cruz. Another issue he’s shed light on came in regards to fighter pay and a need for consistency in how the company treats its athletes. The decision on what’s next for Cruz is looming and it will be interesting to follow Dillashaw’s reaction.
Mark Hunt expressed displeasure with the company following the news of Brock Lesnar’s multiple failed drug tests prior to their bout at UFC 200. Hunt’s public outrage against the UFC stemmed from his belief that the company knew about Lesnar’s failed drug tests and let him compete anyway. USADA’s Jeff Novitzky reached out to Hunt to mend fences while the UFC denied knowing about the test results prior to UFC 200. Speaking of knowledge on drug tests, it was only a year ago when Josh Gross reported that the UFC issued a therapeutic use exemption to Vitor Belfort prior to his inclusion in UFC 152 against Jon Jones.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani, Jones expressed his displeasure with the UFC for their lack of concern of Jones’ health especially since Belfort strained a ligament in Jones’ elbow in the early minutes of their fight. With Jones currently facing suspension after testing positive for two banned substances, it seems like the issue will remain on the back burner.
The Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor show this year brought along plenty of tension between fighter and promotion. McGregor’s decision not to attend a press conference and multiple promotional duties led the UFC to remove him from the highly anticipated UFC 200. Prior to their first fight Diaz’s contract demands gave the UFC headaches as he continued to play hardball during negotiations for their rematch at UFC 202. McGregor and Dana White happen to be at odds in several instances. First it was issue regarding media obligations, then came the issue of sticking to his guns by not allowing McGregor to compete at UFC 200. Then came the issue regarding whether McGregor would be stripped of the featherweight title if he continues to fight out of his weight class. McGregor is scheduled to fight Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, however Dana White denied the rumors multiple times and now here we are.
Luke Rockhold recently expressed discontent on his contract now that he is not champion. Willing to try his hand in the field of modeling, Rockhold appeared willing to wait until he was satisfied with his compensation. It didn’t take long for him to agree to rematch Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on November 27th in Melbourne.
These are only some of the examples of high profile fighters going public with their displeasure of the UFC. Georges St Pierre has received partial if not a large portion of the credit for USADA’s all-year-round drug testing of UFC athletes. This is an example of how the most notable fighters under the UFC banner can spark change in a sport that is still growing. The UFC sale to WME-IMG could mean that more interesting changes are on the horizon.