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WILMINGTON, Del. – UFC on ESPN 2 headliner Justin Gaethje believes his promoter should start paying by the round.
Gaethje reasons that if he’s going to fight a potential five rounds for a main event, he should get two more rounds worth of pay against Edson Barboza.
“If I’m getting paid something for three rounds, it’s easy to do the math,” he told reporters at a media day for Saturday’s event at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. “If I’m getting paid $100,000 (to show) and $100,000 (to win), that’s like $33,000 a round if I lose, $66,000 a round if I win. So I’d like to get paid ($132,000) more to fight for two extra rounds.”
Of course, Gaethje admits he might not even make it the full 25 minutes. In fact, he’s planning to retire his opponent before the final bell rings – unless he gets retired first.
“I’ve seen a couple different Edsons fight,” he said. “He’s quit before.”
Any Gaethje fight is a risky investment if you’re banking on it going the distance. But for him, it’s a little bit of an insurance policy beyond the UFC’s standard fight-night coverage. It also doesn’t apply to others.
“Not a lot of guys fight like me, so no, I’m not going to put them in the same category,” he said. “But if I do get seriously injured, it will be in the fourth or fifth round, whenever I’m extremely tired because of my output in the first two or three rounds.”
Gaethje clarifies that main event fighters do get a bump – but it’s not enough. And he says he’s brought it up to UFC brass, though from the sound of it, they haven’t been all that receptive.
“I’m here to fight,” he said. “I’m not worried about the business. You can’t worry about the business this close to a fight. There’s only a certain amount of things I can control leading into this fight, and I will not spend an ounce of energy thinking about the other things that I can’t.”
If fighters had a collective bargaining agreement, the UFC might be more incentivized to listen to new pay proposals. But as it currently stands, the best way for a fighter to ensure maximum earnings is to win and keep a title. The rest, it’s mostly up negotiation, or lack thereof.
A title win would get Gaethje a cut of pay-per-view profits, ensuring he’d share in the success or failure of an event no matter when his fight ended. That’s his ultimate aim, and he’s looking out for nobody else on the way.
To hear more from Gaethje, check out the video above.
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