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Independence doesn’t pay well

Sure, it may seem like a fighter’s market at the moment with EliteXC, DREAM, World Victory Road, Strikeforce, Golden Boy and M1 (haha, just kidding) gearing up. But the truth of the matter is there’s still no better place than the UFC if you want to make money. Okay, let me add a little caveat onto that: There’s no better place than the UFC to make money IF YOU SPEAK ENGLISH. And you aren’t a freakshow. Okay, maybe there’s a few exceptions, but for the most part, it’s true.

While a fighter may sign with a promotion for more money than they’d get per fight in the UFC, odds are they’ll probably fight only half as much as they would in the UFC if they’re lucky. That’s basically what happened to Matt Lindland with Bodog:

Lindland last competed in April of 2007 against Fedor Emelianenko in BodogFight: Clash of Nations in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has spent the last ten months expecting two more bouts and two more paydays. Neither came to fruition.

“I lived up to my end of the bargain,” said the Greco-Roman wrestling Olympic silver-medalist. “I haven’t fought since April, anticipating two more fights with Bodog.

“I was exclusive with them for that period of time. That’s why I hadn’t done any negotiations outside of that contract. I was upholding my end of the bargain and dealing with them with integrity and honesty. I was being forthright, but they weren’t doing such. It was very difficult.”

Explaining his contract situation with Bodog Fight, Lindland said, “My contract was with Sixth Row Productions. Bodog and Sixth Row intermingled funds. I mean, I could go after Bodog Fight, but they have no assets. They set up these shell companies and they’re not paying their fighters. They don’t honor their contracts. It was very disappointing.”

Fighters like Matt Lindland have always been banging the drum for more independence, but I say independence has never worked out well for anyone. Lindland just wasted a good chunk of the past year and a half learning that. And while I’m sure Fedor has scammed a good chunk of money out of M1, I doubt that plus his pay from Yarrenoka even comes close to the cash he’d be rolling in if he’d just signed a goddamn contract with the UFC back when they first took over for PRIDE.

The only guy who seems to be doing well for himself lately with independence is Frank Shamrock. He only fights when he wants to fight and only fights who he feels like fighting. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Frank got fucked over a few times and spent a long time figuring out how the hell to make his situation work for him. And even then it was only his very specific history, name, and popularity that allowed him to pull it off.

Overall, I hate to say it, if you’re fighting for the money, you should be fighting for the UFC. Of course if you’re more interested in sitting out most of the year, getting booked last second for bizarre matchups in Japan, and getting screwed when companies go under, give that ‘independent’ thing a try. It rocks.

  • dignan

    I heard a rumor that he also stinks worse than a skunk.

  • fightlinker

    My nickname for him is Smelly Hendo. I know it’s pretty factually incorrect, which is what makes it extra funny. You say that to a Team Quest fan and they get so angry, they’re just like “MY GOD THAT’S SO WRONG. TAKE IT BACK”

  • garth

    fighter’s union.

    smelly hendo is hilarious.


    I haven’t heard anything about EliteXC or Strikeforce failing to pay. Did I miss something?

  • danaunclefesterwhite

    Well that’s partly true. But there are plenty of fighters with previous UFC/PRIDE experience (this is key) who are making a good living outside of the UFC. Jason Mayhem Miller, Robbie Lawler, Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Josh Barnett, Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, etc. are all making more money outside the UFC than they would inside. Fedor didn’t sign with the UFC because he didn’t want to be tied down to Zuffa’s terms (don’t tell me you are taking Zuffa’s side on this matter. If he doesn’t like the contract, he has the right to not sign it). As for Lindland, he signed with Bodog and those guys are dodgy bastards. It all depends on the circumstances.

    If you don’t have UFC or PRIDE experience already, most of the time you have to fight in the UFC to build your name. Once you have the three letters U F C on your FightFinder somewhere, you’ve automatically increased your bargaining power with promoters by a lot. That’s where it’s partly true that you need to be in the UFC to make money. But Lindland was already with the UFC. He was just retarded enough to sign with BodogSHIT.

  • dignan

    Smell Hendo has a great ring, but it ranks a distant second to Cock Chestnar.

  • Beau

    Does anyone actually think Lindland is better than Hendo? I happen to remember Lindland getting knocked out like a little bitch against David Terrell. Hendo has never been knocked out. Lindland is basically a Hendo that can be knocked out. I mean seriously, what else does he bring to the table?

  • danaunclefesterwhite

    With Lindland’s case, he could have took the reputation he earned in the UFC and translated it to a good deal with EliteXC or Strikeforce. But no, instead he had to sign with BodogSHIT for one big fight and then gets stuck with his hand on his dick for a whole year after that. Lindland was doing well enough until he signed with Bodog. His last fight in the UFC was August 20, 05. He had six fights up until February 07 before signing with Bodog. Six fights in 1 and a half years sounds pretty active to me. The problem is BodogSHIT and that bastard Calvin Ayre, not Matt’s independence.

  • fightlinker

    people have to understand how getting paid works

    talent = base pay
    draw = more pay
    marketability = mass pay

    Smelly Hendo is very talented, but outside the people living in the town by his farm he’s got very little draw. And even less marketability.

    Problem always has been that he wants to be paid more than the guys who are less talented but have both better draw and marketability. That’s actually why any promotion that books Lindland is doomed to failure because they don’t understand that Lindland ISN’T WORTH what he’s asking.

  • Anubis

    If dogshit barbeque fighters like Bob Sapp can figure out how to con $100K out of a promoter and the fans, there’s hope for other indies. It’s all in learning how to market yourself. The problem with Linland is that he’s a boring stiff with no personality. I get his “Sportfight” show on local cable and the guy looks and talks like a zombie. I know I’m going to get skewered for this, but being a good fighter is only worth $1.50. Being a good draw is priceless.

  • cyphron

    Fightlinker now has MMA business acumen!

    Fighters need to know that fighting for the UFC also comes with the intangible benefit of exposure. It’s like free advertisement to MMA fans. Plus, sponsors love some of them exposure which equates to mo’ money.

    How much is a reputation of a UFC worth down the road? Koscheck and Diego Sanchez is going to reap that benefit starting now.

  • Echolocating

    I think it will be a good thing when the UFC definitively reigns supreme and the best fighters compete under one banner. It’s great that fighters have a choice right now and it’s not the UFC or nothing for them, but the sport suffers when talent is squandered as organizations fight against each other. Everybody is trying to take a piece of what the UFC has.

    I guess a time will come when other organizations will fall into an accepted minor league role (proving grounds), but it kind of sucks for the fans right now when fighters like Fedor enjoy immense monetary success without really proving themselves against elite competition.

    I don’t know. This article just got me thinking about the situation of MMA organizations competing against each other in a strictly business sense and how that effects the fighters and the fans. Will MMA be better in North America when the UFC can afford to pay their athletes the more than other organizations? Just thinking out loud, is all.


  • penxv

    You’re missing the bigger picture. Lindland can talk shit to anyone that he wants. And he fought Fedor in front of Putin and JCVD. How many guys in the UFC can say that?

  • fightlinker

    i dunno, i just think he’s holding out for this idealistic idea of how the fight scene should work, and it’s just not like that at all. If he’s not careful he’s gonna end up old and poor, having passed by the opportunity to make some money in the sport before the sport passes him by.

    For some guys, their values and ideals are more important than the money, and bravo to them for that. Just on a financial level it’s not gonna pay off any time soon

  • fightlinker

    btw glad you’re back and commenting, Matt. Any chance you’re gonna get to rematch and kick Rory Singer’s face in?

  • penxv

    I have no idea about anything.

    Something will pop up. With all these cheesy movies coming out… I think MMA is primed for a boom.

  • Xavier

    “That’s actually why any promotion that books Lindland is doomed to failure because they don’t understand that Lindland ISN’T WORTH what he’s asking.”

    My god, you’ve actually finally figured this out.

    It’s fucking amazing.