“I Have This Guy … Acting Like A F**king Drug Dealer” | UFC Fighter Tony Ferguson Joins Growing Complaints Against The UFC System

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 06: Tony Ferguson poses on the scale during the UFC 274 official weigh-in at the Hyatt Regency hotel on May 06, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The harmful noise around the UFC’s pay scale is getting louder and more consistent, and UFC president Dana White is staying the pariah for many fighters.

Recently, UFC fighter Tony Ferguson began to speak up, revealing his animus toward White and the company ahead of his UFC 274 fight this Saturday against Michael Chandler.

Retaliation Tactics

“I’m tired of the retaliation tactics from the company,” Ferguson said during the pre-fight press conference. “Oh, you guys are listening now? That’s interesting. This is why I haven’t done any interviews. This is why I just kept my mouth shut for a long time.

“A lot of fighters have been keeping their mouth shut for a long time. You should ask some of the other fighters that have been f***ing treated like sh*t for a long time too, because i’m not the only thinking it or f***ing saying it or seeing it, so maybe you should ask them too.”

Ferguson is returning to the Octagon after a year’s layoff. He lost his past three fights and is looking to get back to the winning ways that landed him the interim UFC lightweight championship back in 2017.

Overworked. Underpaid.

“I think we’re underpaid, personally,” Ferguson continued. “I’m going to be real. I’m not going to say it too much. Dana [White] said something the other day talking about how boxers are overpaid. I asked Dana to box; he said f**k no. I’m like, why? I want to go play baseball. I want to go do other pro sports. I’m an athlete. I grew up playing different sports at a very high level.”

Dana White appeared on The Pivot podcast recently, where he extolled the virtues of the UFC system versus boxing.

Going Out Of Business Sale

“One of the big problems with boxing, too, is that all those f**king guys are overpaid, and every time they put on a fight, it’s a going out of business sale,” White laughed. “We’re just trying to get as much f**king money as we can from you guys, and then we’re out of here. We’ll see you in three years.

“You can’t build a league like that. You can’t build a sport. You can’t have 750 fighters under contract making money feeding their families every year with that kind of mentality. It doesn’t work, you have to run a business.”

One of White’s biggest critics has been social media star-turned-boxer, Jake Paul, who has held the organization to task for its pay scale and White personally for holding his fighters back.

Getting Used To Hearing ‘No’

Recently, UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou made an overture to face heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, only to have White shoot it down. With the UFC having rights over their fighting career, regardless of discipline, UFC fighters need the permission of the company to compete in other sports.

Aside from Conor McGregor, who was able to box Floyd Mayweather, none have been successful.

“I won a state championship football ring right here,” Tony Ferguson continued at the UFC 274 pre-fight press conference. “We were 27-1. I come from Grand Valley State University as a wrestler. I want to go do pro wrestling.

“I want to go do all these couple things but then I have this guy right here acting like a f**king drug dealer telling me I can’t do this sh*t. There’s too many levels of things right here where I got pissed off at, and I had to kind of put that behind me. You make your money by winning, showing up and having good performances. They’re waiting for everyone to speak up.”

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.