When Uriah Hall announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, he wasn’t necessarily thinking about a future in combat sports, but that all changed when an interesting offer came across his table.
The UFC veteran was approached about transitioning into boxing for a match against three-time NFL Pro Bowl running back 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 to compete,” Hall explained during a media conference call on Thursday. “I’m a competitor. I’m the guy that goes out there for a million times until I win.
“My coach called me about this, I was traveling, just getting away and stuff and it peaked my interest just because I’m just very competitive. Give me some of these ‘reasons’ to do it and I’ll do it. They did so I’m here.”
While boxing matches featuring athletes from other sports like football and social influencers have become big business in recent years, Hall did not retire so he could specifically chase those fights.
Instead, the 38-year-old middleweight says it was just about the timing and the opportunity that got him interested and the same could be said for any future offers that might come his way.
“It just happened,” Hall said. “I’m the type of guy I have to be interested in something. If it’s fun, if I see something that’s challenging, then I’ll do it. If it won’t be challenging, then 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. It’s a great opportunity. I see where it can take me. If there’s another great opportunity after this, yeah, I’ll take it. I have a goal. It’s important to have goals to reach. You can’t just stumble around. I don’t want to be a journeyman like that. I want to have a purpose for doing it.”
When it comes to the money that Hall will be earning for the fight, he’s not exactly volunteering to make his paycheck public, but it doesn’t appear that he has any complaints.
A lot has been made over the years about what top boxers do compared to the biggest champions in a promotion like the UFC and the gigantic chasm between the two.
While superstars like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will usually leave with the lion’s share of profits for any card, UFC athletes are routinely paid between 16 to 20 percent of the promotion’s total revenue, which is far less than not only the top boxers but also a fraction of what players across the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball are earning.
Jake Paul, who headlines the show where Hall will face Bell on the undercard, has spoken out vehemently against fighter pay in the UFC while often ending up in head-to-head battles with UFC president Dana White on the subject.
“It’s OK,” Hall said about his pay in boxing. “Listen, the UFC opened my career and extended my career. I made a great deal and everyone’s contract is different. There’s a lot of things that aren’t fair. I don’t think certain things are fair to athletes and for [Jake Paul] to speak out on that, kudos to him but is anything done yet? Nope. How far can we take it?
“You don’t have to go too much into details, but I know people who are doing it [$10,000 to show, $10,000 to win], which is ridiculous. Cause you’re going out there and fighting and you’re putting your brain cells on the line and f****** ring card girls are making $70,000, which is utterly f****** ridiculous. So yeah, there’s some s*** that’s just not going down but compared to this it’s OK. You know your worth as you get older in your career, I think, especially when you put a lot on the line for it and some people feel like they deserve more. At one point, I felt like I deserved more and I had to fight for that.”
Paul has stated that he would like to eventually form a fighters’ union to help athletes gain more control over negotiations with promotions like the UFC much like football players have with the NFL or athletes across other major sports.
Nothing has been set up just yet so Hall is taking a cautious approach when it comes to Paul’s continued tirades aimed at fighter pay in the UFC but he definitely acknowledges there are issues that need to be addressed.
“As much as the UFC will give you an opportunity, what I learned from that is it’s like a monopoly,” Hall said. “They pick and choose. It’s like who can we take? For certain people that they don’t want to take, they slowly dismiss them. It’s business at the end of the day. Same thing in this sport. It’s business.
“Yeah Jake might say all that s*** but it’s just to stir up Dana [White]. Is he doing it because he really cares or is he doing it because of the media? I don’t f****** know. But it’s business and that’s why a lot of these guys talk about money first and everyone’s going to listen. But it’s business.”