Add “El Matador” to the list of UFC stars who’ve become publicly displeased with the organization’s low wages and lack of respect. MMA Payout passes along an excerpt from a new article in Fight! Magazine — written by occasional CagePotato commenter Neal Taflinger — in which Roger Huerta does some serious venting:
Huerta is one of a growing number of Zuffa-contracted fighter who feel that there is a disconnection between the company’s success and the way fighters are compensated. Huerta’s disillusionment with the UFC began when he did press tours for his employer in Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, and London and received a $50 per diem for his troubles. It sounds like a a good deal until you factor in time away from training, friends, and family, days often stretch twelve hours or more, and an exchange rate of one UK pound for two American dollars. “Why do you think I don’t do PR for the UFC any more?” he asks.
He’s also unhappy with the terms of his current contract, but to Huerta, the press tours underscore a larger point: by and the large, Zuffa does not treat its contracted fighters with sufficient loyalty or respect. He argues that many UFC fighters barely make enough to cover their training expenses. He brings up teammate Keith Jardine repeatedly, incensed that a main event fighter is working for ten and ten- $10k to show and 10k to win — while his opponent regularly makes ten times as much.
“The truth is, I don’t really care if I fight in the UFC or somewhere else,” Huerta says. The fighter says he understands that Zuffa has to keep an eye on the bottom line, but he wants to work, “For a company that is as loyal to me as I am to them.”
For the record, Huerta made $38,000 for his last fight, against Clay Guida at the TUF 6 finale in December ($19,000 to show and $19,000 to win). That’s definitely a bit low, considering Huerta’s popularity — though if you believe those rumors that he’s sleeping with Arianny Celeste, and you factor in the dollar value of something like that, that number becomes much, much higher.
With leagues like EliteXC and Affliction eager to build their rosters (and pay UFC refugees what they’re worth, if not more), we can understand the lure of wanting bigger money elsewhere — and unpaid promotional work that requires travel is total fucking horseshit. But Huerta needs to watch his tongue in public. Though he may hope that Dana White sees the article and reacts by catering to all of Roger’s demands, that’s usually not the way it goes in the UFC, which is infamous for its “if you don’t like it, lump it” attitude towards fighters and their contracts. Huerta could find himself on the business end of a freeze-out like Andrei Arlovski, who was punished for his contract complaints by being benched for almost a year then given an undercard match against Jake O’Brien for his last UFC fight. I personally don’t think that would be the UFC’s wisest move with Huerta when the competition is offering as much money and respect as fighters can handle, but Dana White is a stubborn man, and he isn’t here to make friends.