The U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, known for firing off verbal as well as literal artillery, directed a few shots at the UFC last week during an interview on the Grapple Talk podcast. During the conversation, he lambasted the UFC for low fighter pay.
“It’s a good thing I have another job because the UFC doesn’t pay very well,” Kennedy said. He even compared his pay to that of a local garbage man.
His comments were shocking due to the fact that very few fighters are willing to discuss their pay rates while still being a part of the roster. And individuals such as Jon Fitch and Jacob Volkmann may have burned their respective bridges back to the UFC with their parting words about those who cut the checks at Zuffa. Thus, Kennedy may find himself on the receiving end of a pink slip if he doesn’t get his hand raised at UFC 162.
While Kennedy may be the favorite going into his fight against Roger Gracie, it would not be shocking at all if one of the world’s best grapplers found a way to submit him. And in saying such disparaging words about the company, Kennedy may have talked himself out of the opportunity to redeem himself if that does happen, and compete at the highest level of the sport for an extended period of time.
Since then he’s released an official apology that has been posted throughout the mixed martial arts blogosphere; however, the motivations behind that statement should be reviewed by those covering the story. It wouldn’t be shocking at all if it eventually came out that Kennedy was approached by the powers that be within the UFC and told to retract his statements. And with the current state of mixed martial arts he wouldn’t really have a choice, because whatever his concerns about compensation, where else could he get paid like he does at this time?
In reviewing the disclosed earnings that Kennedy has made in recent years while fighting in Strikeforce (with some of those fights taking place under the Zuffa (banner), Kennedy has, in four years, made more than $200,000 before taxes. This is much more than many fighters will earn during their tenure in the UFC. And that earning ability may have been threatened by his actions and words.
Kennedy needs to fight as if his job is on the line come UFC 162, because it very well may be. We’ve seen in the past that the individuals in power within Zuffa do not always take well to outspoken fighters, and since Kennedy’s name isn’t that big amongst the UFC’s stacked middleweight division, he may soon find himself regretting his words while fighting for smaller promotions.