Tim Kennedy Apologizes to UFC for Fighter Pay Comments, Says He Was Taken Out of Context

June 28, 2013
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Kennedy-v-Manhoef-Strikeforce-Ohio-7609Tim Kennedy earlier this week criticized his employer, the UFC, for how much it pays its fighters, and tried to put into context for fans how difficult it can be to make a living as a professional fighter.

On Thursday, however, Kennedy issued a statement on his official Facebook page, retracting his comments and apologizing for them.

Kennedy, while a guest on the GrappleTalk podcast, characterized it as “pathetic” that so many fighters had to work a “day job” instead of being able to focus full-time on their fighting careers.

Kennedy has various business interests and his military career along with what he makes from fighting, which he said doesn’t amount to much after expenses and taxes.

“It would be slim pickings to survive off what I make in fighting,” he told GrappleTalk. “It’s a good thing I have another job because the UFC doesn’t pay very well.”

Kennedy said his comments were taken out of context, but accepted responsibility for his statements, apologizing to the UFC, company president Dana White, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, and matchmaker Joe Silva.

Kennedy’s statement:

“I recently made comments regarding fighter pay. The intent of these statements was to highlight that professional fighters incur significant expense associated with their preparations to fight and that fighter compensation is still not on par with other major sports. While I am fortunate to have various revenue streams associated with my business interests, most fighters do not have that luxury. When you spend training camps with great guys with amazing talents and you see them barely making ends meet, while simultaneously seeing athletes in other sports with far less character and a far smaller work ethic making exponentially more, you can get frustrated.

Unfortunately, I made statements that alluded to how the UFC in particular pays its athletes. This was particularly offensive as Zuffa has taken better care of me than any other organization, even giving me a bonus for being amusing on Twitter. My choice of words was poor, not properly informed, and did not match my intent. Additionally, my comments were taken out of context. I can tell you that I have been fighting longer than most people and I remember all too well the days when there was no regulation or standard for an MMA promotion. I fought many times in Mexico where the rules were negligible, there were no physicals, and being paid was a luxury we didn’t expect. Our sport was shunned and was considered “human cockfighting”. Today, we are on Fox. We have doctors and insurance. We make more money than the average American. And we get these things by playing a sport we love. The only reason this is possible is because of Zuffa. They have legitimized the sport and taken better care of the athletes than any other organization, and the trend is only improving, with athletes making three times what they made on average five years ago.

My comments were hurtful and inappropriate. I accept full responsibility for the statements and apologize to the UFC, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, & Joe Silva as well as anyone I might have offended with my comments. Fighting for the UFC is an honor and a privilege. I look forward to putting this situation behind me and focusing on my upcoming fight with Roger Gracie.”

GrappleTalk host Callum Leslie later responded to Kennedy’s assertion that his comments were taken out of context.

“I don’t agree with Tim that his comments were taken out of context, and I think the full audio supports me in that. However, I don’t blame Tim for backtracking, I’m sure that he was under a lot of pressure,” said Leslie.

“This was obviously something that had been on his mind for a while, since he sent me the breakdown of the purse as soon as we had finished the interview. ‘Taken out of context’ is something of a catch all term for when people say things in interviews they later regret, and sadly it looks like Tim has been made to regret these comments. I’ve not spoken to Tim since the email exchange straight after the interview. The full interview is available at bit.ly/GrappleTalk, and people can judge for themselves.”

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  • Anon D

    Idiots shouldn’t open their mouths, or… tweet, text, post on facebook…

  • Haven’t any of these guys learned to just keep their mouths shut. I’am a very. very big fan of Tim Kennedy, but it was a bad move on his part to say anything in the first place. If you have a problem with your pay you talk to your bosses in private and plead your case. I’m really getting sick of hearing about the money. If you like competing so much then you do it for the love of the sport. If the money isn’t great then make it your hobby and not your profession. Sacrifice plays a big part in achieving greatness. Sometimes we even sacrifice money and a luxury lifestyle to do what we love. What does Tim expect anyway, this is his first fight in the UFC, I’m sure he will be a big draw and make a bigger name for himself with the promotion.

    • coolguy

      I agree to some degree, but you have to understand.. These guys see Dana spending $15-$20,000 on dinners, and living an extremely lavish lifestyle. Now, on the other hand, these guys built this company from the ground up and made a huge investment into the company to make it succeed. It’s always a battle to see where everything lies. ZUFFA covers the brunt of all expenses for what there company does, and has a massive overhead that is only getting larger with offices opening all over the globe. They are an extremely leveraged company, and unlike other sports, are incurring more expenses everyday due to there aggressive approach to expansion. I believe fighter pay will slowly increase, but not sure how high it will go on the whole with the business platform set in place.

      • rampagin

        I agree with muaythaifood. the fighters are being taking advantaged of. dana says it doesnt show profits and all that stuff because they are a private company but if you had heard the fighters that have spoken out and has given a full explanation how much the training camp and costs are, like jon fich and that other guy that just retired. you should agree too. ufc is making way too much profit to pay the fighters the level their getting payed. I understand if they dont agree with it they should make it a hobby but with the media exposure and how america works its just not right. blood and tears should be more expensive than globalization IMO.

    • MuayThaiFood

      Sounds like lofty ideals for a guy who just watches these guys beat the hell out of each other for entertainment and sells T-shirts to their fans. Dana and Lorenzo claim to love the sport and have achieved greatness in building it on the backs of these fighters they don’t want to share the pie with. I might have argued the other way but Fitch’s disclosure of his money earned while in the UFC opened my eyes. It’s decent money but you have to consider all the risk to health and knowing it could be over tomorrow. Dana and Lorenzo have a product they can market because these guys sacrifice a lot. Why should not have a more equitable piece of the pie. Just because you are doing something you love doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about wanting a fair portion of profits from it.

    • MuayThaiFood

      That being said, he shouldn’t have spoke up if he was just going to retract it later.

  • julian moran


  • bobby

    oh oh zuffa didn like it…

  • Stephen Quadros

    Tim Kennedy says another dumb thing?

  • Baller31

    Sounds like daddy Dana had a little talk with him.