When Uriah Hall announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, he wasn’t necessarily thinking about the future of combat sports, but when an interesting offer came across his desk, everything changed.
The UFC veteran has been approached about switching to boxing to take on three-time NFL Pro Bowl Le’Veon Bell, who will make his pro debut after dispatching fellow football player Adrian Peterson in an amateur bout in September.
“I love mixed martial arts and I love competing,” Hall said on a media conference call Thursday. “I am a competitor. I’m the guy who goes up there a million times until I win.
“My coach called me about it, I was traveling, I was just away and it peaked my interest because I’m very competitive. Give me some of these ‘reasons’ and I’ll do it. That’s how I’m here.”
While boxing matches involving athletes from other sports, such as football, and social influencers have become big business in recent years, Hall hasn’t resigned himself to pursuing these fights specifically.
Instead, the 38-year-old middleweight says it was just a matter of timing and opportunity that got him interested, and the same could be said for any future offers that come his way.
“It just happened,” Hall said. “I’m a guy who needs to be interested in something. If it’s fun, if I see something that’s challenging, I’ll do it. If it’s not difficult, I won’t do it.
“I’m just having fun. I’m retired from mixed martial arts, but I’m not retired from making money. This is a great opportunity. I’ll see where it can take me. If another great opportunity comes up after this, yes, I’ll take it. I have a goal. It is important to have goals to achieve. You can’t just stumble. I don’t want to be that kind of tourist. I want to aim for that.”
When it comes to the money Hall earns to fight, he’s not exactly willing to make his salary public, but he doesn’t seem to have any complaints.
A lot has been made over the years about the top fighters compared to the biggest champions in promotions like the UFC and the huge gulf between the two.
While superstars like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez usually walk away with the lion’s share of the profits for any given card, UFC fighters are regularly paid 16 to 20 percent of the promotion’s gross revenue, far less than even the top fighters. . a fraction of what players across the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball earn.
Jake Paul, who headlined the show where Hall will face Bell on the undercard, has spoken out vehemently against fighter pay in the UFC, often ending up in head-to-head battles with UFC president Dana White over the issue.
“It’s good,” Hall said of his boxing payday. “Listen, UFC opened my career and extended my career. I did a great deal and everyone’s deal is different. There are many things that are not fair. I don’t think some things are fair for athletes and for them [Jake Paul] I’m sorry to talk about it, but has anything been done yet? No. How far can we take it?
“You don’t have to go into too much detail, but I know people who do [$10,000 to show, $10,000 to win], which is funny. Because you go out there and fight and put your brain cells on the line and ring card girls get $70,000, which is absolutely ridiculous. So yes, there are some things that don’t go down well, but that’s fine compared to that. You know your worth when you’re older in your career, I think, especially when you risk a lot for it, and some people feel like they deserve more. At one point I felt that I deserved more and had to fight for it. “
Paul stated that he would like to eventually form a fighters union to help athletes gain more control over negotiations with promotions like the UFC, like football players do with the NFL or athletes in other major sports.
Nothing is set in stone yet, so Hall remains cautious when it comes to Paul’s continued rants aimed at paying fighters in the UFC, but he certainly acknowledges there are issues that need to be addressed.
“As much as the UFC gives you, I’ve learned that it’s like a monopoly,” Hall said. “They pick and choose. It’s like, who can we? For some people they don’t want to, they’re slowly fired. At the end of the day, it’s a business. That’s what it’s like in this sport. It’s a business.
“Yeah, Jake can say all that ***, but it’s just to stir Dana up [White]. Is he doing it because he really cares or is he doing it for the media? I don’t know. But it’s a business, and that’s why a lot of these guys talk about money first, and everybody listens. But that’s business.”