Are UFC fighters getting underpaid as the league gets rich?

That question was investigated during a monster 19 minute piece on the "CBC Sunday" news program. Evan Solomon put UFC president Dana White on the griddle. Combining good visuals with ominous music and threatening language from White it makes the UFC look pretty damn evil when it comes to the treatment of its fighters.

White is profiled as the guy who built a $1 billion empire in just eight years:

"When it comes to fighting, I'm a (expletive) genius," said White. "Nobody is going to outwork me. Nobody is going to beat me."

The investigation is built around Randy Couture's assessment of how the fighters in the UFC are treated and compensated. Couture claims that the organization made $250 million in ticket and pay-per-view revenue in 2007. Of that, the fighters only received $17 million. They get no benefits, no retirement plan and have no company backed health insurance.

White flipped out when asked about how much money the organization was making:

"When you talk about our financials, I'm not going to lay my (expletive) financials out there. If you're a fight promoter and you make one (expletive) dollar, you're a scumbag and you're screwing the fighters over. It's the most retarded, ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life. Are we not supposed to make money either? 'Dana White makes money,' you're (expletive) right I make money."

White bases the complaints on jealousy and money-grubbing:

"You're going to have a few greedy guys. Everybody needs and wants to make more money."

He points that the fighters are well compensated with a unique payment system:

"We're probably the only promoter in the history of fight promoters who has a deal with a guy, you look at the contract, this guy is supposed to make $50,000 to show and $50,000 to win. We'll go back in the lockerroom (after a fight) and go that was an amazing fight and we'll write him a check for another $150,000," then White responds as Solomon questions that notion with a tone of shock in his voice. "We've been doing that for nine years. We just write checks to guys because we're so excited, we're fans of this (expletive), we love it."

CBC points out that it's not a fair or secure situation for the fighters.

Solomon touches on the possibility of a fighter's union. White is made to sound to like he's ready to take on his fighters and defeat them:

"This is a (expletive) war. We don't look at this like it's just our business. One of the sad parts about this war is a lot of these fighters aren't smart (financially) like a Randy Couture and others and there's gonna be casualties."

White then threatens someone but it's not clear if it's directed towards the fighters complaining about pay or competing fight organizations:

"Don't ever jump into this thing thinking you're going to come after us and kick our ass. It's never going to happen."

CBC closes the piece with some ominous music and suggests that the organization bought Couture's silence with a $2.75 million pay day at UFC 91. Solomon asks the question: Will anybody step up to protect the athletes?

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