Sunday MMA Quick Hits: Dana White Not “Completely Closed Off” to Jake Paul in UFC

Dana White UFC
Dana White, UFC 271 pre-fight press conference Credit: Dave Noseworthy/Cageside Press

Dana White isn’t willing to say never when it comes to Jake Paul joining the UFC, Tim Elliott defends cheating in a fight, and UFC fighter pay is in the spotlight after Endeavor’s latest earnings call. It’s your Sunday MMA Quick Hits. Let’s get to it!

If You Ain’t Cheating You Ain’t Trying

Putting aside the fact that our mothers would curse us for using “ain’t” in any sort of published article, this Tim Elliott story is something we didn’t get to, and we really should have.

Elliott was accused of grabbing the gloves of opponent Tagir Ulanbekov at UFC 272, and instead of denying what was blatantly caught on camera, Elliott owned it.

“At the end of the day, if Tagir would’ve beat me, nobody would’ve said sh*t about the glove grab, nobody would’ve said anything about the cheating. The only reason why people are upset about the glove grab sh*t is because they lost,” he told MMA Fighting recently. “His team lost and it just makes them look bad. They wouldn’t have said anything about anything had they won, so it’s just one of those things.”

“If you’ve ever been in a fight — and maybe I’m different — I’m trying to win, man. It’s the referee’s job to step in there if I’m doing something wrong. He was telling me all kinds of sh*t, he told me to let go of the glove and I let go of the glove. But for me, it’s not that big of a deal. I’m in there fist fighting. People are going on and on about the morality of the sport and the warrior spirit and all of that bullsh*t, but I don’t f*cking care. I’m not a martial artist — I’m a fighter and this is my job. I’m trying to make money at this job, and that’s what I did [at UFC 272].”

Paging Scott Coker: Elon Musk vs. Vladimir Putin is the Freakshow Fight We Deserve

After Elon Musk took to Twitter to challenge Vladimir Putin to a fight with the fate of Ukraine in the balance, the social media network was quick to alert Dana White.

They picked the wrong promoter.

This is exactly the sort of fight Scott Coker should be in charge of. After all, he gave us Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock, not to mention Rampage Jackson vs. Fedor Emelianenko. Plus, thanks to his working relationship with Fedor, he has an in with Putin.

Not sure how this fight would go down. Putin allegedly has a background in Judo, but he’s also nearly two full decades older than Musk. With luck, Musk would just run him over with a Tesla.

Oh, and this sort of challenge essentially makes light of the thousands of deaths Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused, but that goes without saying.

Dana White Not Entirely Opposed to Jake Paul Fighting in UFC

Well, file this under “things we thought we’d never hear until hell froze over.” In fact, someone do a quick temperature check in the underworld, please.

Appearing on Logan Paul’s podcast, UFC President White suggested that he wasn’t entirely opposed to Jake Paul fighting in the UFC at some point.

“I’m never completely closed off to anything,” White told the podcast. “I used to say that about things, but I don’t say that anymore, because you never know. You never know what could happen.”

Okay, so it’s a far cry from “I’d love to see Jake Paul in the octagon,” but it’s still more than we expected.

Jake Paul Responds to White’s Weight Class Comments

On that very same podcast appearance, White noted that the idea of Paul fighting Conor McGregor was out of the question, due to the size difference. Paul has competed as a boxer at cruiserweight, generally weighing in just north of 190 pounds. McGregor is best known as a featherweight and lightweight in MMA (145 and 155 pounds, respectively), with a couple of welterweight fights (170 pounds) against fellow lightweights who opted to forgo a weight cut.

“He shouldn’t even be fighting Conor McGregor,” White said. “These guys are f*cking huge. He’s huge, his brother is huge. What’s your brother, 6-foot-1, 210 [pounds]? Conor McGregor is 145, 155 pounds.”

“There’s weight classes for a reason,” White later added. Even Logan Paul admitted his brother couldn’t make 170.

Jake had his own take.

“Dana White is begging for [Nate] Diaz and Conor to fight for a third time,” Paul responded on social media. “They have fought at 170 pounds in both their fights. I will fight Conor at 175 pounds, no problem. Stop making excuses p*ssy.”

Ari Emmanuel Defends UFC Fighter Pay, Claims It’s Up 600%

Speaking of Paul, he was name-dropped on a recent Endeavor (parent company of UFC) earnings call.

Brandon Ross of Lightshed Partners brought up the subject.

“UFC fighter comp and benefits have become a real hot topic of conversation lately. I know that’s been elevated by Jake Paul,” Ross said on the call. “I was just wondering if you could give your perspective on why the overall split have ended up where they are and what your outlook is there, whether we should expect relative share that fighters are getting of that revenue pool to go up in time or stay kind of where it is.”

Emmanuel, after checking with Endeavor CFO Jason Lublin, claimed “We’ve increased fighter pay… …Six hundred percent since 2005. So — and we’re investing in the business with Performance Institute, food, recovery. So we have done— and now participation in Dapper Labs and NFTs in the kits. So we think we’ve done very, very well.”

“And as the revenue for the business increases has only benefited that business, and we’ve grown and the sport has grown and fighter pay has grown too, as I said, how much it’s gone up since 2005.”

That would be great and all if not for the reality that an entry level fighter in the UFC makes $12,000 to show and another $12,000 to win, so if they fight twice in their first year and lose both fights, they’re stuck with $24,000 and lose a huge chunk of that to taxes, gym fees, travel expenses, and other costs.

Not to mention, Endeavor bought just over a 50% stake in the UFC in 2016 for 4.3 billion USD, then later purchased the company outright. It hasn’t been in control of the UFC since 2005, so no, Endeavor has not raised fighter pay 600% since then. An interesting question is how much fighter pay has gone up in the Endeavor era, and whether that has been top heavy, going to be biggest stars, while the rest of the promotion fights — almost literally — for scraps.