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Roger Huerta Is Not Happy With the UFC

(Oh boo-fucking-hoo.)

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.

Cagepotato Comments

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big jake- November 29, 2008 at 2:32 pm
Heurta bought into this own hype, he's been fed cans since day one and only beat one good opponent in guida. Good riddance you cocky piece of shit..
MMA-Lover- October 1, 2008 at 2:56 pm
Roger Huerta is a really good fighter. i have not seen one fight that made me want to leave the couch or change the channel. he deserves to be treated a whole lot better. Dana White just needs to get off his high horse and listen to the fighters, they make all the money for UFC. people pay good money to get the fight cards to see him and the other UFC fighters fight.
Bootylam!- August 4, 2008 at 8:28 pm
The forced promo tours are shit, but like Rob said, don't these guys have sponsors? If they don't, then they need to promote themselves and get some! It's obvious the UFC lets them get away with some stuff you'd NEVER see in one of the big 4 [okay, 3] sports.[condoms, guns, even cigs, I think] Why do they try to make it seem like the UFC is damaging their livelihood? If anything their sponsors get seen alot more places on the UFC dime than they would if they bought that advertising. On top of all that, most of these guys would be fighting for nothing anyway because they like it. I've never once heard a guy say "I joined the UFC because I want to get rich and this is an easy way to do it."
Kenny gonna loose- August 3, 2008 at 10:30 am
I think Roger got a piont. Nothing to do if he´s a crybaby or not. DF.
UFC fan- July 31, 2008 at 3:57 am
I hate to see a fighter start to do good, then feel that just cause some bitch is sucking his cock, that the ZUFFA's should suck it as well.
I think El Matador needs to change his name to El stupido.
Go the hell away punk, people who bitch publicly about their problems with fame and glory, need to go fight elsewhere.
You wouldn't be missed shitheel.
Failed Urine Test- July 31, 2008 at 1:24 am
Well Huerta, if you don't like it, go fight in the IFL......
Aaron Rash- July 31, 2008 at 1:22 am
Can someone pull Mr. Huerta over, and inform him that he shouldn't bite the hand that's feeding him? If he want better pay, he needs to win more fight in an exciting fashion and get a better agent. I hate to see a good fighter get screwed in more ways than one.
ROGERTHECRYBABY- July 31, 2008 at 12:36 am
just imagine the connections hes getting and the endorsement money. these fighters live the life. where do i sign? dana white should kick his lazy mexican ass outta the ufc. bring in some nigggga from the wec and see if he'll complain for 50 bucks a day. the ufc can make anyone a star and with that comes the money, classy ladies and the life. again where do i sign? roger shoud say sorry to dana and ask him how he likes his ballllz sucked! stockton what!
Armando- July 30, 2008 at 8:13 pm
well said, STEVE, lol. And Huerta is a legend and deserves to be treated like one. Mark my words, he will be champion in 2009!!!!!!!
Anonymous- July 30, 2008 at 7:26 pm
You can put those three girls around a homeless bum and he will have a smile like that.
Rob- July 30, 2008 at 7:17 pm
Don't forget about the sponsers these guys have. They aren't hurting for cash. The other thing they have to remember is this is what they do for a living. This is their job just like everybody else you have to work for your pay. There's almost always somebody somewhere else who does the same job as you who makes better cash to do it. Such is life. Look at the picture you posted up there. Does that look like a man who is unhappy to you?
Kevin Marshall- July 30, 2008 at 6:34 pm
hob - I see your earlier point, but I think the argument you present works on the false assumption that Jardine's going to draw that kind of money every time he goes out there, or that he does now.

When a pay-per-view headlined by Jardine made the kind of money you're talking about, he was fighting Liddell. Regardless of the outcome of the fight itself, Liddell was the sole reason the buys were at the level they were.

Now, if Jardine were a consistent fighter with a personality who could have built a money-drawing reputation off that win, that'd be one thing. However, him demanding more money based on what his main-event fights drew would HAVE to work with the argument that he himself drew the money or helped to draw it - which is not the case.

Jardine and many others deserve more money. However, there's no way he's making the UFC $500,000 a show, as people aren't buying the show to see Keith Jardine specifically. I'm not trying to personally knock the guy, it's just the way it is.
mmmiles- July 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm
$50 buys you a dinner (for one) in midtown London. That's kinda retarded.
rolltide- July 30, 2008 at 5:20 pm
As much as I hate Huerta and hope he gets stomped by Florian, I'd be kinda happy to see him win just so I can see B.J. murder him and then lick his blood up savage style.
Huerta is Florian's bitch- July 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm
WOW! This is just an amazingly well-thought out set of commetns from Huerta:

“The truth is, I don’t really care if I fight in the UFC or somewhere else"


“[I want to work] for a company that is as loyal to me as I am to them.”

So you start off by saying you have no loyalty to your company. Then follow it by saying you want them to be as loyal to you as you are to them?

Best juxtaposition of lines since Randy's bit about how it isn't about money, but about respect, and then saying respect comes from money.

You really have to wonder if these guys even bother to think before things come out of their mouths. I hope the UFC now gives Huerta a tougher road since he has shown he is totally ungrateful for them making him their new poster boy. After Florian beats him, feed him to Sherk, and then maybe to Stevenson or Maynard. Have a few wrestlers lay on him and embarrass him for 15 minutes at a time as he loses unanimous decision after unanimous decision. Then send him packing and see if he really no longer cares where he fights.
sol- July 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm
$50 per day in london? talk about screwed.

$11.80 just for a day pass on the underground.
$10-20 for a single meal fast food-healthy food.
$3 for a litre of water.

How much money do the UFC generate through copyrights and trademarks when a fighter does a press day? I bet its not $50
ClownBaby- July 30, 2008 at 4:39 pm
that was @ overpayed and overrated
ClownBaby- July 30, 2008 at 4:38 pm
^ dude lighten up, hes not picking chilies in San Juaquin
Overrated? Did he get a title shot I didn't hear about?- July 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm
True, you said nuff to make your self sound like an idiot
overpayed and overrated- July 30, 2008 at 4:28 pm
roger huerta was overpayed. $50 a day is way to much for any mexican and hes the most overrated fighter in the ufc... nuff said
Steve- July 30, 2008 at 4:13 pm
If I beat Chuck Liddell I would expect more than 10,000. But thats just me. Also, I wouldn't step in ring with Wanderlie for less than a million. But thats just me.
NealTaflinger- July 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm

It's not really ridiculous, he's just saying that he wants to have a better relationship with his employer whether that's Zuffa or another company.
IA- July 30, 2008 at 3:42 pm
I'm all about fighters making more money but it must be remembered that no one forces the fighters to sign these contracts. If the fighters think the compensation is too low or that the terms of their agreements are unfair then don't sign the contract in the first place. I have no sympathy for fighters who willingly sign their deals then bitch about them later.
hob- July 30, 2008 at 3:39 pm
Low pay sucks for the fighters, but it's worth remembering that MMA's popularity is a pretty new thing. The UFC lost a lot of money in it's early years and has had to borrow a lot more money to get where it is now. There was an article on some blog about Zuffa's credit rating from S&P and it was below investment grade - meaning the Company isn't quite as flush with cash as I think is generally assumed. The UFC may make a lot of money off of fighters, but I think a lot of that goes to debt payments and gets reinvested into the UFC's aggressive expansion efforts (buying the WEC, Pride, etc.).

I'm not arguing that Dana White is poor or that fighters shouldn't get paid more. But just remember that all of the MMA organizations that pay higher salaries are just hemoraging cash. Unless the popularity of the sport increases a lot (i.e. enough to cover those salaries), they're all going to go under.

Part of the UFC's strategy is also to create a brand that's bigger than its fighters. People don't watch TUF because they've heard of the contestants, they watch because the UFC puts out a quality product. Without TUF, how much would anyone pay Amir, CB or JT Money to fight for their organization? Maybe $6k? Now that they've been on the show, I guarantee they can get more. Now they probably get that much to wear an ad on their ass when they fight and go to an afterparty.

With all that said, the UFC is going to raise salaries, especially for prominent fighters like Jardine that make them money. If Jardine makes the UFC $500 grand in profit each time he fights, but the UFC only pays him $10K a fight, then he's got a lot of leverage to renegotiate. If Jardine has three fights left on his contract and says I'm not risking my life and health for $10K a fight and sits out, the UFC is out $1,500,000 and Jardine is out $30K. Sure the UFC can sue him, blow through some legal bills and reposess jardine's flat screen and $40K car. But that still leaves the UFC $1,460,000 in the hole. Meanwhile, Jardine declares bankruptcy and then enters into a big money contract with Eite XC, Dream, Affliction etc. Alternatively, he finishes out his remaining fights and renegotiates for more as an established fighter.

The problem is that there are only a handful of fighters that have the ability to make a $500K or more impact on the UFC's bottom line. If BJ Penn and George St. Pierre fight eachother in a main event, no one is going say - I would have bought it if Huerta were fighting.
tHOMAS- July 30, 2008 at 3:27 pm
Apparently Subway doesn't send their employees on enough out-of-town training conferences. Maybe fightfan should drop off an app. @ Quiznos?

Huerta's the UFCs latino golden boy. He pairs up nicely with the UKs Bisbing for marketing purposes. Now all the UFC needs is Manny Gamburyan to start kicking ass to tap into that elusive Armenian MMA market.