Is Shane Burgos’ ‘obvious’ decision to ditch the UFC for the PFL a sign of things to come?

In an interview with GQ last week, UFC President Dana White remained adamant that fighters under his promotional banner will continue to earn what they earn as long as he runs the show.

“That’s never gonna happen while I’m here, believe me. These guys are getting paid what they’re supposed to be paid,” White replied when asked why the issue of fighter pay kept on flailing. be raised. “They eat what they kill. They get a percentage of pay-per-view purchases and the money is split among all the fighters.”

White then offered a “simple solution” for those who don’t believe fighters are getting paid enough: “Go start your own MMA organization. »

UFC No. 14 featherweight Shane Burgos seems to have found an even better solution. On Monday, Burgos told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour” that he would be leaving the UFC to join the PFL.

In his last bout, Burgos improved his record to 15-3 after earning a majority decision over Charles Jourdain at UFC Long Island on July 16.

“It was the last fight of my contract,” Burgos said. “I said after the fight that I wanted to test free will, test the waters. I know what I’m worth. I wanted to see what everyone thought I was worth. So I went out there, tested the free agency market and am delighted to announce that I am signing with the PFL.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I have two daughters, I have to come home, I have to look them in the face and say to myself, ‘It was worth it. kick when all is said and done in this sport. With this deal, I feel like it will secure that. Without taking anything away from my UFC career… the UFC gave me the platform to be able to to be in this position right now and secure the deal I just made with the PFL.

Although Burgos admitted it wasn’t an easy choice to leave the biggest MMA promotion in the world, he said financially it was “a no-brainer” after speaking to his family about the significant raise he’s had. the PFL offered.

So Burgos — at 31 and having won four $50,000 Fight of the Night bonuses since 2017 — has he been fairly compensated for his skill level and status? As for White and the UFC, the answer is yes. To them, fighters like Burgos are a dime and White, to his credit, has made the company a multi-billion dollar powerhouse that newcomers dream of fighting for. But for Burgos and his family, the PFL deal was considerably better.

Shane Burgos credited the UFC with raising his profile, but could not convey the deal the PFL offered him. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Still, the question remains: why is the UFC clinging to Burgos, who is just entering his prime and delivering action-packed fights every time he steps into the cage? Sure, he’s 2-2 in his last four fights, but letting him walk away after slotting him into a top-15 ranked featherweight is watering the division and opening the door for others to follow his lead. path.

It remains to be debated whether UFC fighters are paid based on their stature and ability. But if you take into account the income distribution of professional athletes in the Big 3 of American sports – which is about 50% for players in the MLB, NBA and NFL – then the income share of 20 % that UFC fighters would earn is a steep drop. This is especially true when you consider that UFC independent contractors literally put their lives and well-being on the line and don’t even receive benefits like long-term health care or pensions.

Hopefully Burgos’ decision is an eye-opener for the UFC as it continues to grow as rival organizations battle it out for fans and fighters.

Unfortunately, it seems White’s stance on fighter pay is set in stone.

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