John Dodson Recounts Horror Stories of Not Being Paid by Promoters and Sponsors

February 1, 2018

John Dodson has seen the good side and the bad side of MMA over the course of his nearly 14-year-long career.

Wins and losses are just part of the sport and every athlete who steps into the cage or ring accepts that when choosing fighting as a profession. Still, at the end of the night, fighters deserve to be paid no matter the result and that’s where Dodson has faced issues in the past.

Back in 2010, Dodson was part of a card under a promotion called Nemesis Fighting that put on an event in the Dominican Republic with a slew of UFC veterans including Keith Jardine, Eliot Marshall, and Paul Buentello.

Dodson earned a unanimous decision victory over John Moraga that night in a battle of two future UFC title contenders.

Unfortunately, the event ended up as a disaster with a multitude of issues from nobody policing behavior from the fighters in the backstage area — including some athletes putting Icy Hot on their legs before preparing to walk out to the cage — as well as no medical personnel being on hand to tend to the athletes after their fights.

When it was all over, the fighters then found out that nobody was getting paid, as checks were bouncing left and right with the promoter offering no solution.

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“No [I never got paid] and the funny thing is that dude is out in Florida, I think, and he didn’t pay nobody. Just skimmed on by, not even in jail because it was outside the U.S,” Dodson revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly about the event eight years later.

Dodson will never forget that night in his career, as the win over Moraga earned him a spot on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 cast, thus kicking off his tenure with the UFC, but he was forced to walk away without getting paid a dime from the event.

Oh, hell yes. It was so sketchy and so weird and it was coming from a trusted source that we were going to be okay and be perfectly fine and they just killed it,” Dodson said.

“That literally was the worst experience of my entire life.”

Once Dodson got to the UFC, he stopped worrying about whether or not he was going to get paid at the end of the night, but that didn’t put an end to shady business dealings.

According to Dodson, as he prepared for his 2013 title fight against Demetrious Johnson, a former manager promised him a lucrative sponsorship that would be worth at least six figures. For Dodson, that was life-changing money, but after losing a decision to Johnson in the biggest fight of his career, he found out backstage that he wasn’t getting paid much at all.

“I don’t know about the sponsors. Remember Pop Rocks? I never had a real sponsorship, my ex-manager just made up a bogus one,” Dodson remembers. “At the time, I had [this manager] who made it seem like I had this big Pop Rocks sponsorship for the first fight with Demetrious Johnson and he promised me six figures when I become the champion.

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“Then I lose after a hard-fought fight, I thought I won, everyone saw me put Demetrious down and I had my head held high. He came in the back and said, ‘you ruined it, we were going to get six figures, now you don’t get nothing.’ He gave me like $3,000 and I was devastated. I was basically crying,” he continued.

“Two weeks later, I tried to get a hold of him, sent him an email and then I contacted [Pop Rocks] headquarters and found out they’re in Spain. They’re not even an English company. They threatened to sue me.”

Dodson is obviously not alone when it comes to these sorts of encounters in the history of mixed martial arts, but he definitely appreciates the guaranteed paycheck he gets from the UFC at the end of every fight.

Dodson will try to earn another hefty payday this weekend when he returns to action against Pedro Munhoz at UFC Fight Night 125 in Belem, Brazil, in the co-main event on Saturday night.