You can’t bitch about payment before you make a name for yourself

UFC veteran Donald Cerrone believes it’s incumbent on fighters to improve their income through self-marketing and self-promotion.

Perhaps no debate in mixed martial arts has been as polarizing as fighter compensation. Whether it’s through winning over Jake Paul for better pay and contract terms or the decision of high profile fighters like Jon Jones, Francis Ngannou and Tony Ferguson to speak out, the discussion is more important than ever.

But not everyone falls on the same side of the argument. While many criticize the UFC’s salary structure, the likes of Chris Daukaus, Darren Till and UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko have sought to defend the promotion. The latest to join this side of the discussion is Cerrone, a 54-fight MMA veteran.

During his appearance at the UFC Austin media day on Wednesdayleading up to his return to the Octagon this weekend, “Cowboy” suggested that those complaining about pay should blame their own door, not the UFC’s.

“I talk about it all the time to the young people of the PI. They’re like, ‘Yeah, but we’re not Cowboy.’ And I’m like, ‘Hey man, I was you once. I stood where you stood,” Cerrone said.

“And you guys don’t give a damn about money and you don’t give a damn about all the rights and things you think you deserve. Man, it’s the entertainment business. You need to create a name for yourself before you start making requests.

“Yeah, you do 12 and 12, but you just fought on the Uncle Larry show for $500?” I get it, I win, I win, I win, I get your name, then the salary comes, then the opportunities come, and then everything comes with it,” Cerrone added.

Cerrone’s sentiment is similar to that shared by top five lightweight Michael Chandler, who also recently weighed in on the fighter pay debate. Like “Cowboy,” the former Bellator champion said it’s up to fighters to use the platform provided by the UFC to secure lucrative opportunities outside of the cage.

Chandler’s take received significant backlash from UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, who accused “Iron” of speaking from a privileged position and without any understanding of the other fighters’ situation.

Interestingly, Cerrone chose to address and defend the situation down the fighter pay scale. While many who criticize outspoken fighter pay campaigners suggest that fighters like Ngannou and other top-of-the-tree fighters are being paid properly, ‘Cowboy’ seems to believe that is the case. even for the opposite end of the spectrum, which sees fighters walk away with as little as $12,000.

Women’s flyweight Sarah Alpar would likely disagree, having had to set up a GoFundMe page to meet her camp’s demands ahead of her fight with Erin Blanchfield last year.

What do you think of Donald Cerrone’s comments on fighter pay?

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