UFC veteran Dan Hardy saw a lot more changes in the last few years and an improvement in fighter compensation. But he knows there’s a long way to go until athletes are being compensated at a truly fair level, and the Francis Ngannou situation illustrates that perfectly.
Francis Ngannou sought better pay and additional concessions from the UFC when he attempted to negotiate a new deal. Health insurance and a representative to help fighters in contract negotiations with the UFC were among his requests, but he claimed those suggestions were quickly disregarded.
In the end, Ngannou opted for free agency rather than inking a new deal with the UFC. Hardy wishes more high-profile fighters stood by his side, because he said that’s the only way the UFC will ever truly be impacted.
“You look at what just happened to Francis Ngannou and who knows where he will end up signing,” Hardy told MMA Fighting. It’s exciting to have him as a free agent. But imagine that, at the time Francis Ngannou stood firm for his fighters, a few other champions might be there.
“We see a lot of people pose for photos with him but don’t stand by him. Because it’s going to make a difference for the whole entire sport, but these are the moves that people make movies about in the future. Francis Ngannou is the heavyweight champion and ambassador for .”
Perhaps the loudest voice opposing the UFC and fighter pay lately has been social influencer turned boxer Jake Paul, who routinely went out of his way to target UFC President Dana White over pay to athletes.
Paul soon gets his own taste of MMA promotion as an equity partner in PFL with plans to introduce a 50-50 split for athletes competing on pay-per-views.
Hardy said it’s a sad state of affairs that Paul is usually the loudest voice in the room lodging these complaints. But he also knows the 26-year-old fighter has the means to stand up to White and the UFC in a way that most athletes don’t.
“It is unfortunate that this comes from outside the sport, but the truth is that there aren’t many people who have the financial resources to defend their position like Jake Paul,” Hardy stated. Your credentials are gone, and the media cannot do it. The fighters can’t do it because your opportunities disappear.
“It’s an awkward situation right now in mixed martial arts, and we’ve got to be grateful for Jake Paul turning his attention to it. He could completely ignore mixed martial arts if he wanted. Although he could focus entirely on boxing, he decided to speak out about mixed martial art because he has the funds .”
Hardy has also teamed up with the PFL after he split with the UFC following his run with the organization as both a fighter and eventually a color commentator on broadcasts.
In an effort to separate the organization from other promotions like the UFC, the PFL instituted a season long, tournament format that ends with a $1 million prize being paid to the winner across every division.
Hardy is aware that it’s not enough for the sport to be fixed as a whole. However, he has seen positive effects of the PFL on the sport with fighters who could otherwise never have imagined the possibility of a seven-figure income while fighting in MMA.
” The sad thing is that we all know how important it is for everyone to make money, given the risk they are taking,” Hardy stated. The PFL is a good option. You know your stuff and you can fight other people in the league. The goal is to be the best in martial arts and all other things are put aside. If you do your job well enough in a year’s time, you could be a millionaire. Who wouldn’t love that chance?
“Brendan Loughnane stands out. He was not good enough, and wasn’t selected [by the UFC]. because of all the hardships. He became a millionaire at the close of last year. People in his group in the other organisations are very bitter about him. Not because of his success in the cage but because of his success financially. This is a good example of where everyone’s at
On a personal level, Hardy certainly understands how tough it can be to thrive financially as a fighter, even at the highest levels of the sport as a top contender and a title challenger.
When Hardy faced Georges St.Pierre back in 2010, Hardy said he didn’t come close to a million — or six figures — but it did take its toll.
” I didn’t make it to [a million dollars],” Hardy. “My contract for the GSP fight I think was $22K and $22K ($22,000 to show, $22,000 to win).
“I didn’t receive the win bonus, and most of it goes to training camp and travel. This is very depressing. It makes you feel as if you have given up .”