Demetrious Johnson reveals shocking pay during UFC run: ‘That’s where that chip on my shoulder came from’

Demetrious Johnson shed some light on his pay during his tenure with the UFC – and the numbers are quite shocking.

The former UFC flyweight champion, now ONE Championship’s flyweight titleholder, revealed what he was getting paid while he was a title contender and champion in the UFC.

Johnson (31-4-1), who’s regarded as the greatest flyweight in MMA history, said he was making well under six figures many fights, even when he was several fights into his distinguished title reign.

“When I fought Dominick Cruz (for the bantamweight title in 2011), I was on a contract – I think I was fighting for ($14,000 to show) and ($14,000 to win),” Johnson said during one of his recent Twitch streams. “I lost to Dominick Cruz, so I made $14K. Then I was about to fight Eddie Wineland, and that didn’t go through, so I fought Ian McCall in Australia. I was still on that same contract. And then I got a new contract when I fought Ian McCall the second time. I think I got bumped up to ($20,000) and ($20,000).

“So I beat Ian McCall, and then I fought Joseph Benavidez, and I was still on that ($20,000) and ($20,000). When I fought John Dodson, I made ($23,000) and ($23,000). And then when I fought John Moraga, it probably went to ($26,000) and ($26,000). And then when it was Joseph Benavidez (in the rematch), I think it was like ($30,000) and ($30,000).”

Johnson revealed it took him three consecutive title defense for him to get a champion contract with the UFC – which usually means more money and pay-per-view points. “Mighty Mouse” did get a bump in pay, but didn’t get the same pay-per-view provisions most champions have in their contracts.

“I finally got a new contract as champion, and I think it was ($125,000 to show) and ($50,000 to win), but I couldn’t get pay-per-view points – and that’s where a champion makes most of their bang for their buck, is the pay-per-view points,” Johnson said. “Because if you get on a card with a Conor McGregor and he does 2.1 million buys, then you just do the f*cking math. You’re going to make a sh*tload of money. I never got the opportunity to do that.”


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Toward the end of his historic title reign at 125 pounds, the UFC tried to book a champion vs. champion fight between Johnson and then-bantamweight titleholder T.J. Dillashaw. Johnson said low pay was the reason he never accepted the bout.

“When they tried to stiffarm me to fight T.J. Dillashaw, I was like, ‘Yeah, pay me a f*cking million dollars and I’ll do it. This is a super fight, let’s make some super money.’ They never wanted to do that. That’s why I came out like that, basically pushing back, like, ‘When does a champion have leverage? When does a champion be able to get what’s due to him?’

“I’m going on my seventh or eighth consecutive title defense, you’ve got f*cking CM Punk over here who’s making 500 bones ($500,000) and it’s his second fight in the UFC. That’s where that chip on my shoulder came from.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie