Ex-UFC star Daniel Cormier has revealed he received a lavish gift from UFC President Dana White for his first fight with Jon Jones.
The former two-division champion shared a heated rivalry with the former light heavyweight king, who ruled the division for many years between 2009 and 2019. Cormier first met Jones in January 2015 in Las Vegas at UFC 182.
Tensions ran high from the start and there was a clear sense of animosity between the two. In the run-up to the event, a notorious brawl erupted when Cormier shoved Jones during a press tour in August 2014.
After a successful start in the UFC with a four-fight win streak, Cormier won his first main event as a title fight against bitter rival Jones. “DC” would lose the fight via a unanimous decision at UFC 182 in Las Vegas.
In an interview with The Pivot, Cormier revealed that White gave him a substantial bonus the day after the fight, on top of the comparatively meager $50,000 he received for the Fight of the Night fight.
“Dana will call me two days later,” Cormier said. “‘Hey man, you all killed it. Numbers are out of this world.” He says, ‘We’re going to send you a million dollars.’ (This is) 2015.
“Dude sent me a million dollar check the next day just because he said I did a great job.” (h/t MMA junkie)
“DC” went further into the details of his contract at the time, which were also publicly announced. However, only fight money and performance bonuses used to be public information and not an additional incentive that an athlete might receive.
“It was in 2015 that I fought Jon Jones for the first time,” Cormier said. “We had this great setup. And I made $80,000 for showing up and $80,000 for winning. I lost. So I left that arena and I was like, ‘All that and I made $80,000.’
“And I made about $80,000 in sponsorships just by being able to wear those patches on our shorts. So I was like, ‘Man, I’m going to make $150,000 for all of this. It’s crazy.”
Much has been said about the issue of fighter pay in MMA. It’s important to note that Cormier’s experience seven years ago took place in different circumstances. Zuffa hadn’t sold the UFC for $4 billion, which she would do next year in 2016.
According to Cormier, voluntary bonuses were often given at the time of promotion. Despite the lack of similar stories lately, it’s harder to find out how much a fighter actually gets after each fight since the company is under no obligation to reveal the information.
“So you’re trying to protect the athlete a little bit by not showing exactly what you’re doing,” Cormier explained. “…Much of it is hidden. And you also make money on the pay-per-view side.
“So if you become a guy like Conor (McGregor), like Jones, like Izzy (Adesanya) — you start selling pay-per-views, man, you get $2 a buy, $3 a buy, 4 dollars per purchase. Then the money really starts to flow.”