Chris Wade is unhappy with the PFL over what he said is about a 30% pay cut from his regular-season fights to the playoffs.
Wade, the top seed in this year's PFL featherweight playoffs and the featherweight runner-up in 2021, told ESPN on Tuesday that he is locked into a fixed purse for the playoffs, which is a "substantial" drop from what he made this past regular season. Wade said he has "considered" not competing in the playoffs unless PFL can match his playoff pay to his regular-season compensation.
Last year, Wade said, he had the same conversation with PFL brass and they said they would replace him with an alternate in the playoffs if he didn't take the pay reduction.
"This year, it's happening again," Wade said. "Right is right, wrong is wrong. You can only take so much as a homeowner, as a family man. I need to look out for me and mine, as well."
PFL declined comment on the matter when reached Tuesday by ESPN.
Wade, 34, went 2-0 in the regular season and stopped fellow UFC veteran Kyle Bochniak with a highlight-reel, first-round TKO on June 24. He is the top seed in the PFL featherweight playoffs and scheduled to fight Brendan Loughnane in the semifinals Aug. 20 in London. The winner will advance to the finals, where he will compete for the PFL featherweight championship and $1 million.
Wade and Loughnane don't like each other and have gone back and forth on social media and in interviews. Wade is also irritated that the fight between them will take place in Loughnane's home country of England when PFL also has a New York date for its playoffs.
"I felt like there was definitely an opportunity there to do something with me, as well," Wade said. "That was overlooked for one reason or another to go in his direction. As a fighter, you have to take some of that personally, take it to heart. You have to let it become a motivating factor and that's what I'm doing with it right now."
In 2018 and 2019, Wade said the pay for PFL fighters actually went up when they reached the playoffs. But that changed after the pandemic when PFL canceled its 2020 season. Wade said he was actually cut by PFL due to the pandemic and re-signed to a less lucrative deal. He said he stayed quiet in 2021, wanting to be a good soldier because he genuinely likes PFL and believes in its regular season and playoffs format. But he saw how much the low pay hurt him last year and now would like PFL to come to the table.
Not every fighter makes the same fixed rate for the PFL playoffs, Wade said. Some have bonuses or have negotiated a different sum of money for the playoffs. He's hoping for that same opportunity, but doesn't believe he's being heard by the PFL.
Having to travel to England for the semifinal with Loughnane complicates matters even more, Wade said. PFL typically only pays for the travel and accommodations of him and one corner person. Wade vs. Loughnane is expected to be the main event of the Aug. 20 card, so Wade would be allowed three corners total. He's not sure if he has to pay out of pocket for one or both extra. After the pay, the travel expenses and the taxes, he's questioning whether or not it's worth it.
"It's not sustainable for a lot of us as fighters," Wade said. "As a fighter, you have to look at what's worst-case scenario. God forbid, the fight doesn't go your way. You go over to a different country, you pay taxes, paying $1200 a pop for cornermen to fly over, for hotel rooms."
In general, Wade said he has an issue with MMA contracts, most of which are very one-sided. A fighter can struggle, lose a few in a row and a promotion can rip up the contract and cut that fighter. But when a fighter overperforms the contract value, there's nothing the fighter can do to get more money.
Wade, who went 5-2 in the UFC and is 10-4 in PFL, said he has discussed the matter with his manager Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA and is hoping he can engage in a conversation with PFL before the playoffs begin. As he enters training camp, Wade said his focus isn't completely on where it should be -- Loughnane -- while he hopes PFL and his team can come to some kind of compromise. Wade said he's not asking for an "astronomical" number -- just the same purse he was paid two weeks ago against Bochniak.
"It's been something that's not necessary, a distraction, in my opinion," Wade said. "It could be easily resolved just by them finding some middle ground with me."