Ahead of his UFC 227 bantamweight title clash with champion T.J. Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt has called for changes to the pay structure for fighters.

The year 2016 was monumental for Garbrandt as after starting it as an unranked fighter, he would go on to win four times, ending the year as the new bantamweight champion after a dominant unanimous decision win over Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 in December.

With the card headlined by Ronda Rousey, Garbrandt made the biggest payday of his career at the time with a purse of $200,000 but his next fight would not be until November of last year.

Garbrandt was initially scheduled to defend his new title against Dillashaw at UFC 213 in July last year, but would pull out due to a back injury. The fight was then scheduled to take place at UFC 217 in November which would be headlined by pay-per-view draw Georges St-Pierre. "No Love" would lose his first title defense after getting knocked out by Dillashaw in the second round.

Speaking during a media lunch Monday, Garbrandt claimed he was not fully healthy for the fight, but with a baby on the way and his plans of buying a house, he could not withdraw from UFC 217 due to financial reasons.

"What can I do? I pulled out of the fight [for the first fight]. I had a wife that was pregnant. I fought Dominick Cruz for $200,000 a year before that," Garbrandt said, as per MMA Fighting. "I’m trying to buy a house, I’m trying to get insurance, all the things you’re thinking you made it, you’re a world champion and you’ve got all this f-----g money but we’re not, man. I understand you have to build your way up to it and it’s good, but, I couldn’t pull out."

"Two weeks before the fight, I had to go to Vegas and get eight epidurals shot in my back so I could heal up and go to the fight week in New York. I don’t regret anything. I’m blessed, being able to be here with now. And I’m healthy and that’s the thing, I’m so excited to be here and speak to you guys, I’m excited to be getting into the Octagon."

Garbrandt believes it's crazy for fighters to have to fight injured for the sake of a paycheck and given how the UFC was sold for $4 billion just two years ago, he can understand why more and more fighters are chasing money fights in recent times due to the low pay.

"You have to live life and now I have to take care of my family," Garbrandt explained. "That’s why you see all these fighters who want these money fights. You can’t blame them. They go in there and literally take years off our life. For what, $40,000? $50,000, some of these fighters are coming in 10 and 10 so, what, if they get their ass beat and make what, $10,000? It’s crazy, man."

"You’ve got NHL players and MLB players making millions and millions and millions and we’re the fastest growing sport in the world. Something’s gotta change."

UFC 227 takes place Aug. 4 as Garbrandt will challenge Dillashaw for the bantamweight title. Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will defend his belt in a rematch against Henry Cejudo in the co-main event.