Ramsey Nijem was among a large group of fighters purged from the UFC’s roster last month, but he says his release came because of his refusal to sign a new deal with the organization, along with his refusal to sign on for the new drug testing policy under USADA.
“They made an offer to me and – man, I’m losing money fighting there,” Nijem said in an interview with MMAJunkie.com. “I said no and that I need more money to fight because it’s not possible. If you don’t have sponsorships it’s not profitable. It’s a really hard way to make a minimum wage salary.
“I asked for more money and they said, ‘No, this is what you’re going to get.’ That was that. The next thing you know, I got pulled out and told I was going to get bad matchups. I was given a bad matchup. I quote unquote lost that last fight (a split decision loss to Andrew Holbrook at UFC on Fox 16), which I feel like was one of the best performances I’ve had. But, whatever.
“After that was the whole WADA (USADA) thing. I just don’t think I get paid enough to tell someone where I’m at every single day. I’d have to move up a weight class without IVs. It was a lot of things, man. It was a month later after my fight. If it was because of the fight, I’d have gotten cut right after the fight. But it really wasn’t because of that. It’s because I refused to sign the WADA and I didn’t want to keep losing money.”
Penick’s Analysis: There are some significant issues here. The UFC cutting out sponsorship opportunities under the Reebok deal without actually supplementing income as Dana White claimed they would accomplish was unacceptable, and the fact that they’re not accounting for that in new fight contracts is a condemnation of their current payscale. And if they actually told Nijem he was going to get back matchups because of that, it’s another serious issue fighters need to be challenging. That’s damning to the UFC’s stances as far as what’s being challenged under the class action lawsuits they’re currently facing. On top of that, releasing fighters for refusing to sign something they had no part in negotiating like the new USADA policy is another thing that can and should be challenged. This is why fighters need to come together and why they should have some sort of say in what’s affecting their careers. The way it stands, things like this seem commonplace, and more and more fighters could find themselves on the outs under similar circumstances if they don’t comply.