Tony Ferguson was not paid his full UFC 209 show money, as many believed, and he’s not happy about it.
“I think they should take care of their fighters a little bit more, the ones that really put in their time and effort and really grind for them, because I’m one of those dudes, man,” Ferguson said in an interview with MMAjunkie on Tuesday. “I’m one of those grinders, and I’ve never bashed my company.”
Ferguson had been slated to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in a battle for the interim lightweight title on Saturday, March 4, at UFC 209. Nurmagomedov, however, was taken to the hospital due to weight management medical issues several hours prior to the official weigh-in on Friday.
Ferguson made weight, but upon advice of doctors, Nurmagomedov was yanked from the fight.
The UFC tried, even that late in the game, to line Ferguson up with another opponent, Michael Johnson. Ferguson and the UFC couldn’t come to terms on a deal though, as Ferguson said that he wasn’t willing to take a pay cut for the bout.
Had the fight with Nurmagomedov taken place, Ferguson was contracted to be paid $250,000 to show and another $250,000 if he had won. The UFC apparently didn’t want to pay him that to fight Johnson. When neither fight happened, Ferguson told MMAJunkie that he was paid less than half of his show money.
“It was like a slap to the face,” Ferguson said. “My training expenses were a lot larger than any other fight I’ve ever done because this was supposed to be the biggest fight of my career. So now I’m sitting here, and it’s like, what is my worth to the UFC? Like, do I not fight enough? Do I not bleed enough for them? It’s going through my head right now, because I didn’t lose. I did everything in my power that I could to show up on that scale, and that’s what I thought we were going to do. That’s why you call it show money.”
An unidentified UFC official confirmed to MMAJunkie that Ferguson was paid a six-figure sum, defending the promotion’s decision not to pay him his full show money because his contracted compensation was linked to the interim title fight. The official also pointed out that the promotion still paid him despite having no obligation to do so under his bout agreement.
It still didn’t sit well with Ferguson.
“How am I supposed to like the company I work for if (it’s) short-changing me?” Ferguson posed. “(UFC president Dana White) was telling me he was taking a loss from this, and I’ll bet you he’s somewhere out on his boat, or doing something on his jet, laying $250,000 down on a craps table.”