John Cholish has been making more headlines than he ever did fighting now that he’s retired and speaking out regarding the UFC’s starting paygrade. Dana White even shat-talked him, which is a sure sign you’ve made some waves. But let’s get past all the name calling and generalities being thrown around here. Cholish spoke to Steph Daniels recently at length and here’s a couple paragraphs worth of tangible and reasonable demands:
I feel like if a fighter has a 2-3 month fight camp, the base pay should be able to cover all his training and livelihood, so that he can focus solely on that fight, as opposed to worrying about what they have to do to make ends meet.
I think you should be able to go into a fight with your opponent on an even level. If you’re fighting someone that’s going to have three people in his corner, maybe he’s the hometown fighter, or if the UFC allows three corners, which they do, I think you should be able to have all your coaches covered, including hotel rooms for yourself and your three coaches. I think that’s a base level and it’s not outrageous.
The reason that I said that, is if you’re fighting in a foreign country or something that requires traveling far, it’s going to put that fighter at a significant disadvantage. He’ll either have to only take one corner or use a larger amount of his purse just to get to a level where he’ll have the same support in his corner as the fighter that’s standing across the cage from him.
The coaching / corners thing does make a lot of sense – fighters travelling halfway around the world are already at enough of a disadvantage having to adjust to timezone changes. Putting the extra cost of bringing over their proper corner on them seems straight up cheap of the UFC. Up until Cholish mentioned it, I never thought the UFC was the kind of league that only paid for one corner. That’s B league shit right there.
As for UFC base pay being able to cover ‘training and livelihood’, that’s a slightly more nebulous demand. There’s a lot of different livelihoods out there that range all over the financial map, but I think we can agree 8k/8k a fight minus taxes and expenses isn’t going to fly for many other than the ‘fighter sleeping in a trailer behind the gym’ livelihood. I personally won’t feel all that great about the UFC’s payscale til starting fighters are making 20k/20k. That probably won’t be for a while though – keep in mind Jon Fitch was cut for ‘being too expensive’ and he made 60k/60k.
(pic by Jason Da Silva for USA Today)