After six years and 12 fights in the UFC, top welterweight contender Rory (Red King) MacDonald says he wants a fair deal.
So the Montreal-based mixed martial artist plans to honour the last fight on his UFC contract and then test the free-agent fighting waters. The 26-year-old MacDonald, ranked No. 1 among 170-pound contenders, is scheduled to meet No. 2 Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson in the main event of a televised fight card June 18 in Ottawa.
MacDonald, who has been fighting professionally since he was 16, is no prima donna. He just wants what he believes he is due.
"Hopefully I'll find an offer somewhere, whether it be in the UFC or somewhere else, where I feel like I'm appreciated the way I feel I should be," said the B.C.-raised fighter.
MacDonald (18-3-0) has not fought since last July when he lost to champion (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 in Las Vegas. The back-and-forth bout, named the UFC's fight of the year in 2015, ended one minute into the fifth round when MacDonald's nose, broken in the second round, was shattered by another punch. MacDonald went down, protecting his bloody face, and the fight was stopped.
Lawler won but looked like someone had taken a box-cutter to his lip.
MacDonald's basic pay was US$59,000, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He collected another $50,000 for a fight of the night bonus. Lawler also got a $50,000 bonus on top of a purse of $300,000, which included a $150,000 win bonus.
The UFC does not divulge all its fighter pay details but MacDonald says $50,000 is about what he normally takes home from a fight after paying taxes, his management and other costs.
It's a tough way to make a living.
"It certainly is, but it's the only way I know," said MacDonald.
He saw some specialists after the Lawler fight to have his busted beak examined but said everything was fine.
He resumed training five days after the Lawler fight but did not spar for some three months. Ironically the sparring helped his nose. He's not sure what happened, but the nose seemed to get hit back into place.
"It started to feel better afterwards," he said.
MacDonald is due to become a father in July, another reason that he wants to get his financials in order.
He says his agent presented the UFC with a "very complex breakdown."
"The offer was very fair, in our opinion," the fighter said. "We weren't reaching for the stars."
MacDonald says he has no problems with the UFC and hopes that, after the Thompson fight, the best offer comes from the UFC so they can continue their relationship.
The Canadian isn't the only fighter to have issue with the UFC over fighter pay. Former lightweight champion Benson Henderson signed with Bellator on February after his UFC contract expired.
The UFC had wanted MacDonald to fight No. 13 Hector Lombard on the recent Brisbane card but the Canadian balked, saying he didn't want to go to Australia to do it. The matchup had been made at other closer venues but never stuck.
"I just see less and less money at the end," he said of fighting Down Under.
It hasn't helped matters that Canadian UFC cards have been rare in recent months. The Ottawa card is the first since a televised show last August in Saskatoon.
The last pay-per-view event in Canada was UFC 186 in Montreal in April 2015, when MacDonald was slated to meet Lombard. The fight was scrubbed when Lombard failed a drug test and MacDonald was given the title fight with Lawler instead.
"It would be nice to see them give me an opportunity to headline a Canadian pay-per-view," said MacDonald. "It doesn't seem like they want to test those waters, for whatever reason."
MacDonald has no problem facing Thompson (12-1-0), saying the 33-year-old American will be a good test.
Thompson has won six straight and is coming off a dominant first-round stoppage of former champion Johny Hendricks.
"I think it's a good opportunity for me. I couldn't ask for a better one really," said MacDonald. "A tough guy with a lot of hype and momentum behind him. So if I can stop that, it really catapults me right to the best possible situation for myself."
MacDonald is hoping for a third crack at Lawler. He lost a split decision to the American the first time they met, in a non-title bout at UFC 167 in November 2013 that MacDonald believes he won.
"Hopefully I get a deal with the UFC after I beat Wonderboy. And then get the rematch for the title. That would be picture-perfect for me .. I'm hoping I get a chance to really show I can beat Robbie."
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter