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“I had to defend the belt 8 f—ing times and I didn’t get this” – MMA Legend On CM Punk’s UFC Salary

CM Punk Article Pic 2 WrestleFeed App

“Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson, often hailed as one of the greatest MMA fighters in history, recently opened up about his experiences with compensation disparities during his time in the UFC. Johnson’s reflections come in the wake of the UFC’s settlement of an antitrust lawsuit, which many hoped would lead to significant changes in fighter pay and industry standards.

The settlement, which saw the UFC agreeing to pay $335 million to the plaintiffs, was seen as a potential turning point in the ongoing discussion around fighter compensation. However, Johnson’s comments shed light on the challenges he faced, particularly as a smaller fighter in the flyweight (125 lbs) division.

Johnson recalled his tenure as the UFC Flyweight Champion from 2012 to 2016, highlighting the lack of pay-per-view (PPV) points he received despite his remarkable success in the octagon. Unlike fighters in higher weight classes, Johnson was reportedly denied PPV points due to his size, a decision that significantly impacted his earnings.

During his championship reign, Johnson’s lack of PPV points meant he missed out on substantial bonuses, despite headlining multiple events and achieving record-setting title defenses. While champions in other weight classes reportedly received $500,000 flat fees plus PPV points, Johnson’s compensation structure differed significantly.

Reflecting on the disparity, Johnson emphasized the financial impact of not receiving PPV points, especially considering his impressive track record and the potential for significant earnings on high-profile cards featuring stars like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones.

Johnson said the following on his YouTube channel:

“They specifically said, ‘We do not give pay-per-view points to flyweight guys’. They said it to me, and when they did that, that’s when I went ahead and took the [$125,00] (show money) and [$50,000] (win bonus) after I beat Joseph Benavidez in Sacramento for the second time when I knocked him out. I got the opportunity, I went through my whole contract as a champion, I got to renegotiate, I wanted pay-per-view points, they said, ‘We don’t give it to you guys, and that’s where I went 125 and 50. Went on another streak, and I fought Henry Cejudo. After I knocked out Henry Cejudo, they gave me $350,000 guaranteed, go up every 10,000 as an escalator. Then, finally, they put in my contract when I would break the record, or when I fight Henry Cejudo, they would give me pay-per-view points just for that one fight.

If you’re a lightweight or a welterweight, middleweight, or heavyweight, I’ve been told (by champions at the time) that once they became champion, they got $500,000 flat, and it went straight into their contract. They got pay-per-view points every single time. So, when Conor (McGregor) became champion, he got $500,000 flat—pay-per-view points. Jon Jones got $500,000 flat, pay-per-view points. And some more. They disclose $500,000 flat, but that’s what they got. For me, it was never that.

If I would have got pay-per-view points every single time I defended my belt, if I was on the Jon Jones, Conor McGregor card, Amanda Nunes, whatever it may be, it might not be $800,000 extra check, but those extra six-figure checks add up eventually. 10-11 Consecutive title defenses. You put me on three Conor McGregor cards…”

Despite his success and contributions to the sport, Johnson’s frustrations with the UFC’s compensation model ultimately led to his departure from the organization. Following his last UFC bout, a closely contested split decision loss to Henry Cejudo, Johnson made the move to ONE Championship, where he has continued to excel.

WWE Superstar CM Punk was paid $500,000 each for his 2 UFC fights in 2016 & 2018. Johnson had the following to say about that:

“This guy comes in and gets a base salary of f**king $500,000. There were also potential pay-per-view bonuses and other financial incentives in his contract. I had to defend the belt 8 f**king times and I didn’t get this.”

Since joining ONE Championship in 2019, Johnson has showcased his skills with notable victories and a championship title in the 135-pound division.

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