Fighter pay is either great or terrible, depending on who you ask

Fighter pay is either great or terrible, depending on who you ask

The UFC and McDonald’s are in a similar situation where an uncomfortable amount of people are fixating on how much they pay their employees considering the profits they’re making. The UFC stuff has been going on for a couple of months now, since John Cholish retired from fighting because being in the UFC was literally costing him money. Now the topic just won’t die, possibly because new fighters keep opening their wallets to watch moths fly out. Or possibly because paying a professional athlete 8k/8k per fight in a league that makes 10 million + dollars per PPV event just seems brutal on it’s face, no matter how cut throat your interpretation of capitalism is.

But rather than be a total downer with a dozen posts over the week on this somewhat depressing topic, I’ve decided to summarize all the latest “UFC fighter pay is shite” news into one big round-up post! First up: The Korean Zombie ain’t making shit to fight Jose Aldo for the featherweight title:

I will be making 20,000 dollars to show, and another 20,000 dollars if I win. I do not get any PPV points. After 2 more fights, I will be able to negotiate my contract. Hopefully, I will be in a good position when that happens.

I believe I am a very popular fighter, but I do not make a lot of money. There is definitely a problem with that.

In other discouraging pay news, some egghead has done the math and it turns out all that bonus money rarely goes to the lower level guys who need it the most. Statistically, prelim fighters have a 3.2% chance of winning a Fight of the Night bonus:

Look at this graph from MMA analyst Reed Kuhn. After looking at roughly eight years’ worth of UFC end-of-the-night bonuses, Kuhn found that, statistically, prelim fighters are unlikely to actually win one of those bonus awards. According to Kuhn’s analysis, 36 percent of main event fighters took home some form of bonus (most often the “Fight of the Night” bonus), while fighters in the 12th spot on a card – typically the first fight of the night – won a bonus just seven percent of the time (including zero “Fight of the Night” bonuses).

Throughout the prelims, the numbers look similarly depressing. The six and seven spots – the two fights just before the main card begins – offer the best hope for a bonus, but even those fighters win a bonus award only 14 percent of the time. The chance of two prelim fighters combining for the “Fight of the Night” is even worse. As Kuhn pointed out, “A fighter in any given spot on the main card will average a 14.7 percent FOTN bonus rate, while being on the prelim card results in a measly 3.2 percent FOTN average. That’s a huge drop, and a far larger drop than Knockout and Submission averages across the card.”

But it isn’t all griping about pay. There’s also griping about fighters griping about pay. Here’s Joe Lauzon supporting the status quo:

“We’re paid fighters, so getting in to the UFC doesn’t mean you’re gonna have this cushy job. You get paid based on how your performance goes,” explained Lauzon. “I’ve been very fortunate where I have had some great fights and I’ve been rewarded with some bonuses. I couldn’t be happier with the pay structure. It all comes down to people wanting to see you fight.”

Easy for him to say – Lauzon shares a record with Anderson Silva for most post-fight bonuses won: 12. Shit bro, leave one or two for the prelim guys!

And then there’s Matt Hughes, who sounds straight up offended that anyone would complain about pay nowadays considering he had to fight uphill through the snow both ways for peanuts:

“You go back to when I first started. These guys are making as much now as I did when I won the belt,” Hughes said. “How can these guys complain about their pay? I don’t understand it. I really don’t. Most of the guys that complain are guys who have been kicked out of the UFC.”

It’s gonna be hard for Matt Hughes to have sympathy for anyone regarding money – back in the dark ages of 1999, Hughes and other top guys like Chuck Liddell and Jens Pulver were paid $1000 each to fight at UFC 22.

  • agentsmith

    Sure, Matt… but you won the belt in 2001 when there was no money in the sport to get a piece of and the UFC wasn’t even turning a profit.

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