Israel Adesanya lobbies for UFC 234 pay-per-view points after main event bump: 'What happens to them?'

MELBOURNE, Australia – Israel Adesanya believes he should get a cut of the pay-per-view for UFC 234 after being bumped to the main event on short notice.

Following his unanimous decision victory over Anderson Silva (34-9 MMA, 17-5 UFC) on Saturday at UFC 234, unbeaten rising star Adesanya (16-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) arrived at the post-fight news conference and clearly had something on his mind that he wanted to express.

The bout with Silva originally was the co-headliner of UFC 234, but when middleweight champ Robert Whittaker (20-4 MMA, 11-2 UFC) was forced to pull out of his title defense with Kelvin Gastelum (16-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) on fight day due to a hernia issue that required “emergency surgery,” Adesanya was thrust into the headlining spot.

With rare exception, pay-per-view headliners are reserved for championship fights. Titleholders almost always have a cut of the potential buyrate negotiated into their contracts, and Adesanya assumes that was the case for Whittaker. With the champ unable to compete, though, “Stylebender” raised a valid point about what happens to that money.

“The pay-per-view points, where do they go? What happens to them? I’m just wondering,” Adesanya said in his post-fight news conference. “Maybe I’ll have to sit down with (UFC President) Dana (White) and make him talk because that’s a lot of money being left on the table and it stays in the hands of the dealer when I’ve done my bit. I showed up to work. Unfortunately, it was out of Rob’s hand. It wasn’t in his control.

“The controller was in Player One’s hands. I showed up to work today. I clocked in. I came early to watch (my teammates) do battle and I stayed late so I can do all this stuff, as well.”

UFC 234 took place at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.

White may have given ammunition for Adesanya’s argument, too. When speaking to the media post-fight, White indicated Whittaker’s withdrawal wasn’t a massive blow to the business of UFC 234 from a pay-per-view perspective.

“The pay-per-view wasn’t bad,” White said. “The pay-per-view wasn’t bad at all. It was a good night. I didn’t sleep at all, but other than that, it was a great night. Everything worked out. At the end of the day, you’re going to hear people bitch and if people don’t want to buy it, they don’t have too. But most fight fans want to see some fights and we did really well considering what happened to us.”

Although Whittaker vs. Gastelum was a marquee fight for UFC 234, Adesanya can state with the utmost confidence that he and Silva were the primary attraction on the card from a global perspective. He said he gave a lot to promote the fight, and given the fact he ultimately ended up the main event and produced “Fight of the Night,” he said his argument for getting a greater piece of the pie is valid.

“I’m working my ass off,” Adesanya said. “I feel like, man, I don’t know what the buyrates are because it wasn’t really my main event. It wasn’t really my show. They put me in the (expletive) regular hotel. I didn’t get the main event suite either. But the pay-per-view points I’m looking like, what happens to them? Maybe me and Anderson can split those because we got ‘Fight of the Night’ and that’s a lot of money being left on the table. We’ll see what happens with that.

“If you look at the YouTube, or just the numbers itself: The official ‘Countdown’ on YouTube, last time I checked it was like 300,000 views for Rob’s one with Kelvin. Me and Anderson, I’m pretty sure our one is past a million now. We’ve known who the people have wanted to see for so long.”

For complete coverage of UFC 234, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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