Sage Northcutt earned $40,000 in show money for his fight last December. Quite a nice score for a 19-year-old kid from Houston in just his second UFC fight.
And quite a nice financial talking point for many fighters and fans.
Pay always has been something of a touchy subject with many MMA fighters. The Northcutt news lit the embers a bit.
UFC president Dana White had a simple answer for those who question the deal.
“So we should only pay the guys the Internet thinks we should pay?” White said. “Believe me, we know what we’re doing. We’ve been doing it for 15 years. I’m not going to bring a kid in that adds value and not give him the added value. Give him what he deserves.”
Northcutt moved up a weight class on short notice after his first opponent pulled out of the fight at UFC on Fox 18 in Newark on Saturday. Northcutt lost by second-round submission to Bryan Barberena in a welterweight bout at the Prudential Center, his third fight in four months.
“If you bring value, you’re paid for it. Look at Conor Mcgregor. The guy’s had seven fights in the UFC and he’s making loads of money. Because he brings it. You eat what you kill.”
White was speaking at a media luncheon on Thursday in Manhattan to promote his new reality series “Lookin’ for a Fight” with Matt Serra, a former UFC welterweight champion from East Meadow.
Northcutt (7-0) was discovered on the pilot episode last year and made his debut at UFC 192 last October. He stopped Francisco Trevino in the first round that night. He earned $10,000 in show money that night, plus a $10,000 win bonus, a relatively standard payout for first-time fighters.
Northcutt submitted Cody Pfister in the second round at UFC Fight Night last December, earning a $40,000 win bonus.
“We originally brought the kid in at a low number, you know, what anybody would come in at,” White said. “Then he fought that fight in Houston and I cut him a new deal. You know what the reality is? You know the difference when you have somebody that has that star quality. Everybody has a different path, in life, period. In the UFC, guys come in with different paths and to say that there’s no value in Sage Northcutt is crazy. So I think the fair thing to do is pay the kid.”
Both of Northcutt’s fights aired on Fight Pass, the UFC’s digital streaming subscription service. White said the numbers on Fight Pass shot up when Northcutt fought, so he adjusted his deal.
“Sage Northcutt brought value and he got paid accordingly,” White said. “So should I keep this kid under a $15,000 and $15,000 or 18/18 scenario, or do you pay the kid what you think the value is? So what are we? Are we not paying enough or we’re paying too much?”