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“Agree to disagree”

Whether you want to address it or not, we’re in a new age of MMA. No longer is it the best fighting the best, or do the champions make the most money. In this day and age, it’s all about making the fights the fans want to see.

Call it the Conor McGregor effect, or just the expansion of a niche sport, but the reality is that the biggest purse goes to the biggest draw. The most recent case in point was none other than CM Punk, the now 0-1 fighter (I use that term very loosely) who got paid 500,000 for essentially a mid-life crisis. While not the highest paid on the card, he is currently making more than some UFC title holders, and that’s not sitting very well with everyone.



Tyron Woodley recently received scrutiny for calling out popular fighters like GSP and Nate Diaz after his title win against welterweight “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, but in reality can you blame him? No, he doesn’t have the drawing power of a Brock Lesnar, or a Conor McGregor, but with the recent trend,  it’s worth a try.

It seems nowadays everyone has to have a personality. If you’re a good guy you have to be a really good guy (i.e. “Wonderboy” Thompson, “Super” Sage Northcutt, Daemian Maia) if you’re a bad guy you’ve got to be a really bad guy (Jon Jones, Nick and Nate Diaz), hell even Fabricio Werdum seems like he’s turning heel. But the question remains, should it be about the draw or should it be about the fight?

Flyweight champion and arguably pound for pound best current fighter DemetriousMighty Mouse” Johnson  weighs in on the conversation, and it seems he’s of the mindset, if you can’t beat’em, join’em.

“Doesn’t matter to me. My paycheck is exactly the same. I think you see a lot of guys who are starting to come out and say, ‘no I’m not going to fight that guy, even though he’s the number one contender because I want a better pay check,’ and you’re starting to see a lot of champions do it. I understand why they’re doing it; because the UFC have made it a point – champions don’t get paid the top dollars.

“And you’ve got a guy who can come out, who’s never lost – I have nothing against GSP, but I like to keep it real – you have a guy that hasn’t been active in three years and he’s (probably going to make) way more money than any champion on the roster – probably same as Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz - but that’s what the UFC has started to do.

“And you’re starting to see a lot of people say, ‘if I don’t get this title shot, this is not a sport at all,’ and I think we’re starting to lose that mystique to where you have two of the best fighters in the world, going out to fight each other to become the champion. But now, everybody is like, ‘I don’t want to fight the number one contender, I want to fight the guy who everybody likes to watch fight, so that I get that big pay check.’ Trust me, I’m about to jump in that boat too, but I will never turn down a fight and I’ll just fight anybody.”

Johnson also cited Sage Northcutt as a newcomer on the scene who made more than former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, but is this right?

I don’t know if it’s a matter of right or wrong as much as it is a matter of preference. If you want to have a league of great promo’s, social media antics, and more entertainment then yes, you should give the biggest purse to the biggest draw. If you want a more fight oriented promotion, with maybe less antics but more natural personalities then you should give the most money to the champions. The point being that wherever UFC places their value, that’s where the fighters will go.

Maybe it’s a good thing? Maybe we’ll have a batch of Conor McGregor’s, people with movie star charisma and ninja skills to boot. But most likely, the fighting will suffer, and we’ll have more celebrity fights and the chosen ones will call the shots. Hopefully there can be a lucky comprise.

“I’m only 30 now and I had 10 years. I’ve fought for the UFC since 2011. So what is that? Essentially, five years I’ve competed in the UFC and I’ve been the champion for almost four years. I can’t retire right now. So if I was an NFL player and I played four years and won the super bowl four years in a row, I guarantee I can f**king retire. You’re starting to see a lot of fighters like, ‘we want more money so we can be able to retire eventually,’ instead of, we get to 30 years old and we’re like, ‘alright, I think Costco has openings.’”

Check out the full interview below. Don’t forget to chime in your opinion in the comments section.

Lionel Harris-Spence is a local drunk and part time writer for Cage Potato, and Generation Iron MMA. You can catch him screaming obscenities at a flat screen during most MMA events

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