Josh Gross Begins Even-Numbered Years with UFC Hit Pieces

Certain things are like clockwork in the mixed martial arts blogosphere. MMA Junkie will break news and Bloody Elbow will run it through the SEO ringer; positive steroids tests will be met with equal parts outrage and mocking of the outrage; Ryan will promise us all something amazing and fail to deliver (I did get my Team Modafferi and Human Cockfighting t-shirts, though); and Josh Gross will get antsy in the middle of winter and attempt to relive Sherdog’s battle with the UFC while he was at their helm.

Dear readers, you know I am a powerfully lazy writer, frequently led astray by such petty “real life” concerns as supervised probation, college courses and a job. I believe the last time I put my fingers against a keyboard (when not bullshitting on Twitter or documenting why someone is late on their mortgage) was immediately following the UFC’s debut on Fox – an event that was widely clamored for among the MMA media for years before being largely pooh-poohed when it actually happened. I’ve had similar (read: identical) droughts of productivity (or are they spurts of uselessness?) before, but I’m learning that they’re ok during the end of years ending in a 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9.

Immediately following the sparsely-bought UFC 108 PPV headlined by Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva – an utterly cursed card that conjured images of Papa Shango with a UFC-emblazoned skull across the Interwebs – Gross wrote this piece about how this singular event signaled the death knell for Zuffa’s no-co-promotion policy (a.k.a their entire business model). To be fair, at the time, Fedor still loomed as an undefeated* #1 fighter outside of Zuffa’s grasp (not so much anymore) and the waves from his signing with Strikeforce were still being measured. However, the reactionary aspect of the piece – one poorly-bought PPV = co-promotion forever – compelled me to come to this very site and disagree. That propelled me to Watch Kalib Run’s podcast, the front pages of a few SBN sites and a ballot with USA Today. If the trajectory from this piece is similar, I’ll be the Republican nominee in 2012 (I respectfully decline).

Today’s timing is more weird than reactionary for the piece. The actual material, however, is just short of embarrassing. I feel genuinely sorry for Outside the Lines (one of the few quality offerings from ESPN) and John Barr having their names attached to it. Here’s the link. Not only are the actual named sources for disgruntled fighters/managers few and far between, they’re essentially limited to Rob Maysey, who is a completely unimpeachable and objective source of such informatio… oh wait, he runs the “Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association,” a powerfully weird site that’s largely under construction and lists its most recent activity – by Maysey or anyone else – over eleven months ago, despite claiming over 1,800 (largely avatar-less) members. Hmm.

(more after the jump)

Allow me to go on (it’s been a while). Gross tosses in the names Randy Couture and Jon Fitch (whom, combined, spent approximately 24 hours of the last 5 years not under Zuffa contract) lists unverifiable expenses and no source of income other than the fight pay. That’s right: we have arbitrary, word-of-mouth numbers on things like camps, coaches and nutrition taken as gospel, and zero mention of sponsorship numbers in a piece that is purported to be about “fighter pay.” For Gross and Barr to include numbers that haven’t been confirmed while pretending that the only pay UFC fighters see is from the UFC is complete and utter bullshit.

The same article also ventures an average of unverifiable opinions from anonymous sources as to the revenue split between Zuffa and the fighters (10%), THEN goes on to explain that Maysey believes that the vast majority of Overeem’s actual income was “off the books” and non-public! How can you, in one breath, guess as to the amount of revenue the UFC pays out, and then admit you have NO FUCKING IDEA in the next?

I suppose that, if every paragraph you write is a sentence, it’s easy.

But who the fuck writes like that?

Josh Gross, that’s who.

And for the finale – the triple axel of this shit show – Gross quotes members of the Culinary Union that’s currently SUING Station Casinos for anti-union practices (a charge the Fertittas categorically deny). All right, another fantastically unbiased source when it comes to the UFC. The article ends with Maysey opining on the slim likelihood of fighters ever unionizing. Well, Rob, you’ve been at it since 2005, and all you have to show for it is a piece of shit website that doesn’t even list your purported membership of “about 50 fighters and trainers”. That’s a number which I am calling bullshit on until I see the list of names, by the way.

You know what? Almost every name under these “members” looks to be randomly generated (I acquired an eye for these when Fightlinker was besieged by spambots). I’m calling bullshit on all of them, too.

Either Josh Gross got completely trolled by Rob Maysey, or he’s allowed his anti-UFC feelings to manifest themselves into another shitty piece of writing, this time on ESPN. I’m leaning both ways.

  • subo
  • kvelertak

    Subo.. Sucking Dana White’s cock for free. If only people gave a shit about what you had to say.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Last time Subbo told me something it was s a lie.

    This makes the Jesus in my pants sad.

  • subo

    No dude, that’s happening tomorrow. Scout’s honor.

  • Letibleu

    Well, I took a look at this website. There seems to be 6ish active members. The last article written by one of their writers dates back 11 months ago.

    The only other activity is from user generated forums in which 6ish different users seem to be somewhat active. Its much worse than here!!!

    2448 users but only 60-80 seem to be generated by real people. The rest are all random letters together (subo is right about bot generated members)

    Total Users: 2448 Latest Member: Loovortep
    Total Messages: 1682 Total Subjects: 81 Total Sections: 1 Total Categories: 4
    Today Open: 0 Yesterday Open: 1 Today Total Answer: 45 Yesterday Total Answer: 63

    Now for this Rob guy that is made out by Gross to be MMA’s resident fighter pay expert:
    Rob Maysey
    Karma
    Member since
    Tuesday, 13 July 2010 03:29
    Last online
    46 days ago
    Profile views
    517 views

    He seems to have a worse attendance record than Ryan!!!!!
    Half of the real looking members seem to be aunts, uncles, general family that were coaxed into making a profile to encourage Rob.
    These are not MMA fans (profile pictures of many of these members):
     
    Great job Josh Gross on checking the creds of a source. Ronald McDonald told me things about you…
  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Molester’s honor?

    No thanks.

  • subo

    ^ lol and kudos. Did Gross really get trolled here?

  • subo
  • SHORT_BUS

    LOL @ Rob Maysey’s website. I went over there with the intention of making a troll account so I could scat bomb the place but decided it would be a waste of time since 99% of the forum posts are spam bot ads.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    As to the actual post, you’re decrying the fighters for giving their word on training and living expenses (never mind having a personal life and spending money on that) while being silent in regards to the bonuses and revenue sharing claimed by Zuffa.

    The fighters get shit on if they reveal their identities while exposing this kind of shit.  The guy making 20-28k does not have the career resiliency of a Randy Couture.  He doesn’t need to give his name until the UFC opens its books.  That’s the only way we get to the truth of the situation, which is why we’re gonna need a fighter’s union soon.

    I don’t believe in a boxing split, but there should be money put aside for tiered-term pensions based on years fighting in the UFC, with similar health insurance based on time served.  A stronger base pay system, especially after the first three fights.

    Your writing is getting a bit better, but this is still all over the place, man.  It reads like a defensive rant a child might go on.  Chastising Gross for not thinking of both sides and then doing even less yourself colors the valid points of your post.

  • subo

    Yeah man, HE hasn’t even been there in months. Domain’s set to expire next month – wonder if he’ll renew…

  • subo

    What? I don’t need to be even handed here. I’m not presenting my view/research on fighter pay: I’m deriding his as a steaming pile of biased bullshit and unverified numbers.

    I want a union. We talked about this on Untethered earlier today. But that shit is on the fighters, not the owners.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    I’m deriding his as a steaming pile of biased bullshit and unverified numbers.

    So you’re accusing him of being you?  Seriously though, how can he verify the numbers if the books aren’t open?  All he can go on is what he’s told.  Same as you.

    Bitch about Zuffa not opening their books like a real sports org if you don’t like it, but bitching about other people going on the info available is dumb as shit and makes the point about Massey look uninformed.

  • dick

    Is this Maysey character a phony? Yes. Does Gross actually know exactly how much of the UFC’s money is paid to fighters? No. What is the culinary union really looking out for? itself.

    That all being said, do I agree with pretty much all of Gross’ points? Abso-fucking-lutely. Anonymous sources have been a hallmark of investigative journalism for centuries. And just in case anyone at all didn’t know, it’s a little hard to get someone to go on record talking about how the Fertittas violate their business associates. Just ask that guy who turned up dead in a car crash right before he was supposed to testify to a gaming commission.

    So, while you have some points about how the article could have been more rigorously written, Josh Gross is still pretty much right about every actual point he makes, and while you don’t explicitly say that Gross is wrong, you are totally wrong in your implicit pooh-poohing of his points.

  • SHORT_BUS

    I started a thread over there to liven the place up: http://mmafa.tv/forum/5-the-arena/2499-short-bus-welcome-party.html#2499

  • subo

    Josh Gross is not Seymour Hersh.

  • subo

    And the Fertittas are not gangsters! Jesus fucking Christ!

  • Letibleu
    The administrator has disabled public write access.
  • subo

    Also, “median pay” is a useless statistic. In a top heavy industry like pro sports, “mean” is much more accurate. A stat included solely to mislead.

  • SHORT_BUS

    Just posted today on BJ Penn.com: 2011 Salary Report For 337 UFC Fighters

    http://bjpenn.com/news/2012/01/12/ufc-news-%E2%80%93-2011-salary-report-for-337-ufc-fighters-11553.html

    Here’s the top 10:

    1 Tito Ortiz* $1,495,000
    2 Michael Bisping* $850,000
    3 Jon Jones* $785,000
    4 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira* $750,000
    5 Vitor Belfort* $620,000
    6 Lyoto Machida* $604,000
    7 Frank Mir* $575,000
    7 Rampage Jackson* $575,000
    9 Mauricio Rua* $565,000
    10 Donald Cerrone $494,000

  • dick

    Josh Gross is the best journalist that MMA has had up to this point. And even though some of the people he interviewed for this piece are not really legit, this is a man who has done his research and does have a very high level of journalistic integrity.

    And if you know anything, and I mean anything at all, about the history of Las Vegas money, you’ll know that organized crime is VERY well ingrained in the big business of the city. The city was literally built by the mob. I’m not going to say any more other than the fact that you need to do some reading before making blanket statements like you know what you’re talking about.

    Your median/mean discourse makes me wonder whether you’re simply not thinking or whether you’re engaging in sophistry, just trying to sound good while knowingly spouting bullshit. Median income means that half of all fighters make more, half make less. it’s the best indicator of what “the everyman” makes. The mean has virtually no significance whatsoever when you’re talking about the lives of the majority of UFC fighters, because the vast majority are not among the 29 or so who get PPV cuts and whatnot. It’s very easy for the UFC to pay its discretionary bonuses to a few fighters and say “look, we made this guy a millionaire” while Karo Parisyan struggles to feed his family after making the UFC millions of dollars.

  • thingvolds

    lol. i got through one paragraph.

  • iamphoenix

    Just drink piss bro

  • subo

    At what point did Karo Parisyan make the UFC millions of dollars? (never). There haven’t been 400 people in the history of ever that weren’t planning on buying a PPV or ticket and then said “oh shit Karo Parysian!” and changed their mind. (Ryan’s one of them).

    The ONLY MAN HE NAMED AS A SOURCE isn’t legit. They built him up as THE authority on MMA pay numbers.

    And just because “Casino” was based on a true story does not mean that Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta sanction the murder of people that object to their business dealings.

    Josh Gross is a hack that got famous leaking the results of a reality TV show.

  • thingvolds

    i take back any bad thing i ever said about dick, btw

  • SkippyKid

    I have to disagree with Dick on this one and agree with Subo.

    The UFC has an actual business that they are still trying to build. Giving up a whole whack of money to guys like Karo Parisyan makes no sense at all.

    Do you realize that the 5% that gets paid the big bucks are the 5% that people actually care to see..

    The other 95% could be subbed in for another random joker in an MMA gym across the world.

    It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in the UFC with their production and just because the UFC can make you think some random fighter is good (Dan Hardy, Chris Lytle, etc) doesn’t mean he should be paid like a star.

    Look at a guy like Jon Fitch. I wouldn’t spend my milk money watching Jon Fitch fight if I never saw him fight again.. but he is probably way OVERPAID since he probably makes a few hundred grand a year… you could replace him with another guy no one wants to see and they would be equal in popularity..

  • thingvolds

    “And the Fertittas are not gangsters! Jesus fucking Christ!”

    i’ll just leave this here

    http://fightsport.net/?p=10211

    http://fightsport.net/?p=8658

  • iamphoenix

    All of this is not new at all. We know the top guys make more money than some dudes on the facebook/Ion prelims. So, I don’t know what the point is for any of this.

    And damn subooo you dumb.

  • subo

    Again: the movie Casino being true does not make the Fertitta brothers into murderers.

  • Nepal

    Honestly, Gross is one of the very very few writers that will provide some non Pro-UFC material. Virtually every other writer (other than on this site, who can couch their UFC vitriol as humour) just rah rah all things UFC. Gross has nothing to lose of course since he’s on the UFC black list and Dana don’t forgive…. ever.

    As a hard core, it’s interesting to see this perspective and it must be interesting for the casual fan too. If nothing else, just as a counter-point to all the UFC suckass writers out there.

    There was nothing in this article that wasn’t accurate other than some bullshit that Lorenzo spouted “50% of the rev to the fighters”.

    I thought it was a great article.

  • Nepal

    “Again: the movie Casino being true does not make the Fertitta brothers into murderers.”

    True. It was their dad that was the murderer.

  • dick

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Karo Parisyan personally, but he was definitely top 10 in his division for a while. He was promised a title shot and never got one. It would be wrong to say that he didn’t make the UFC money just because he wasn’t main eventing the cards. That’s like saying that Eichmann was innocent because he just followed orders (you could have replaced him with any warm body and that guy could have followed orders just the same!) (Can’t wait to see how the trolls will run with the Eichmann analogy.) You need people to fill out those cards to make it into a whole evening of entertainment. That being said, I agree with the idea that some guys should be paid more than others; I merely think that the income inequality should be less than it is and that the guys at the bottom should make a bit more (see: the veteran minimum salary in the NFL). I brought up Karo only to illustrate how specious Subo’s argument about median vs. mean was, and his argument about median vs. mean was indeed ridiculous.

    Like I said before, I also think that some of Gross’ sources suck, but he also brought in lots of other evidence. It’s very difficult to get people to go on record about this and many of the actual numbers are considered trade secrets, so this was the best job that anyone could have done on this topic.

    Subo- please stop talking about Casino and actually read the articles that Thingvolds and I pointed you towards. Doing what the Fertittas do is pretty much impossible unless you’re at the very least “connected” to the mob, and there’s substantial evidence that there may be even more to it than that. Their money, at the very least, is severely tainted.

  • Letibleu

    Dana White is gonna get up for this one and he is fighting back tomorrow. this is gonna be a good one to watch unfold.

     

  • subo

    Again: he didn’t make the UFC millions of dollars. Thousands, maybe. And the Eichmann analogy is a r-e-a-c-h, but ultimately true – not in terms of guilt, but in terms of the sheer number of people that had no problem killing to get his job.

    Funny, I never said fighters shouldn’t get paid more. I don’t want them to unionize to maintain the status quo, you know.

    “Substantial evidence” of mob activity tends to lead to prosecution. The Feds don’t normally do those guys favors if they have the goods, and apparently, a phone conversation from 1979 wasn’t enough.

    Dick – if you’re cool with the phrase “Thingvolds and I”, then more power to you, my friend.

  • Reverend Clint

    if you make the ufc money ie youre useful you get paid… the end

  • Blackula Jonez

    What Clint said.

    This is just Gross’s annual rabble rousing article about the UFC/Zuffa.

    Much ado about old ass news.

    The UFC pays the more tenured and popular fighters better than the unknown new fighters = Surprise 2x

    The Fertittas being an old money casino family may have mob ties = Shocker 2x

    Jackals ganging up on Subo = Never happened in the history of the internet

  • ghostboner

    What Scott Blackula said.

    I click on volds’s link and did not get sent to matbattle. Surprise 2.5x?

    Brock didn’t get paid $millions per fight because he was the best ever. He got paid because he consistently sold 800k ppvs.

    Subo did you drink the piss yet?

    And uhh Josh Gross looks like a mole or a hedgehog or some kind of burrowing rodent. Or George Costanza.

  • thingvolds

    “Again: he didn’t make the UFC millions of dollars. Thousands, maybe.”

    i like how subo states this as fact, like he’s some kind of authority. remember, subo is a barely literate tuf noob, who has admitted he wasn’t even into mma when karo started fighting in the ufc.

    karo was a very hot prospect back then. he was doing some amazing shit in the cage and everyone looked forward to his fights. i don’t know if thousands of people bought ppvs specifically for him, but i personally did twice (vs serra + vs diaz). he quite literally put on some of the best displays of martial arts in the octagon since royce gracie. to say he didn’t generate a lot of revenue for the ufc in his 13 fights is fucking retarded.

  • dick

    I know that volds and I have disagreed on certain points, but he does actually logically think through his arguments and has clearly taken the time to educate himself about many of the things he says.

    I don’t get how Subo can say in the same breath that Gross is a terrible journalist for writing this article and that he agrees with the fundamental underlying points. Gross did the best job that anyone could do in writing about this topic, which clearly deserves people’s attention. How would it be possible to use better sources if no one is willing to speak on record for fear of reprisals?

    Just because the Feds don’t think they can win a prosecution against an army of mafia lawyers and doesn’t mean that the Fertittas don’t have mob ties. It just means that they covered their tracks and rubbed out the witnesses.

    Yes, it’s definitely true that the guys selling PPVs deserve to make more money than the guys on facebook fights. But it’s generally accepted in professional sports that in leagues that throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in pay, certain measures ought to insure that the majority of the participating athletes aren’t being starved into a submissive state. This is why we have the salary regulations present in virtually every other major sport.

    Anyway, sorry for badmouthing another writer’s work on here, but after reading this article, I couldn’t hold my tongue.

  • agentsmith

    I too hate the one-sentence-paragraph format that’s all too common in modern journalism.  But you know what else is considered bad form?  Making part of your article about yourself.

  • Jarman

    well, that was entertaining. wasn’t sure what I was going to get outta this bit….until I hit the comments. Thanks for stirrin the pot subo! kicking the hive? whatever. but thes rest of these links provided by the jackals, very cool. I’ve read some of the mobby ones….but that post on bjpenn.com is pretty fucking cool.

  • SHORT_BUS

    Gross is a hack with an obvious slant / bias. To suggest otherwise is laughable.

  • CAP

    ^The slant/bias is a reaction to Zuffa’s iron fist strong arming the media.

    Gross is one of the best out there and as stated above is one of the very few to ruffle Zuffa’s feathers. He’s the type of legit journos that MMA needs. Not every piece is gonna be award worthy but the guy doesn’t just pull stats from his ass.

    Personally I think you should eat poo for writing an article like this but you already are delinquent with some other excrement.

  • andherewego

    The funny thing to me about this story is that it’s coming from ESPN. There was a 700-page bestseller that came out this year that was just one ex-ESPN employee after another calling the place a sweatshop. How much of the pie do you think ESPN’s production assistants, who would be the equivalent of opening-match fighters, get? A few big names make huge money and everyone else makes crumbs, are they describing Zuffa or Bristol, Conn.? This story is like one person who needs stomach-stapling surgery calling another one “fat.”

  • glassjawsh

    subo is the Brock lesnar of mma blogging. he might suck balls but for whatever reason people certainly give a shit about him. the comments section is proof of this.

    derek – don’t write another goddammed word unless it’s explaining how humiliating guzzling your own urine was

  • GameCritics

    Guys like Gross give liberals a bad name. Gross either ignores the economic realities of the business because it doesn’t fit his bleeding heart agenda or he’s the most fucking naive MMA journalist on the planet. Ask Rich Franklin, who bought a big house for his family and got to live out his dream as a professional athlete, if he feels underpaid and exploited? The 70/30 boxing comparison made my head hurt. 70/30 for whom? For two fighters, Pac and Mayweather. The reality is that the UFC makes a lot of these nobodies into incredibly marketable fighters regardless of how much they get paid to show/win. A union will happen eventually, when the money gets too big and/or UFC goes too far, but that’s far from the case right now.

  • ghostboner

    Everyone crying about unions and league minimums needs to go back to the beginning of the NBA season and watch some of those games. Oh wait, they don’t exist because those spoiled illiterate clowns were crying for more money. The league minimum is 473k per year for a brand new draftee. To sit on the dam bench. This is where mma will be headed. Canceled fights/events, strikes, labor disputes, and whining spoiled crybabies who make more money than most people can ever dream of, but still complain that it’s not enough.

  • SHORT_BUS

    I never got the whole “the undercard fighters don’t get paid enough” argument. It’s the same as working for any other company where you come in at an entry level position. If you put in hard work and deliver results you will be rewarded with higher pay and better standing within the company. If you fail to produce then your pay will reflect it and you won’t be around long.

    Frankie Edgar made $3,000 + $3,000 for his first fight in the UFC and $5,000 + $5,000 for his second fight. He made $340,000 last year and only fought 2 times.

    Bisping made $12,000 + $12,000 his first few fights in the UFC and now he makes $275,000 + $150,000.

  • Letibleu

    I dont agree with the article and the arguments presented within the article. Sucks that the Subo hate has sidetracked a discussion about the spearhead Josh Gross is trying to do. I broke the article down and it now to me comes across as a troll article.

     I am curious though if there was an agreed “must be done by” date on that piss bet? Kinda seems silly to not have put one of those in place.

  • frickshun

    I have to agree that 1 naval orange is delicious. But 2……that’s better than 1. Sure, I might have a bit of a belly ache. But in the end, it was worth it.

  • Grappo

     I am curious though if there was an agreed “must be done by” date on that piss bet? Kinda seems silly to not have put one of those in place.

     

    Yeah it seems silly now.  I guess we all just trusted that subo was man enough to own up to his word in a timely manner.   Who knows, maybe he has some disorder where he only pisses once every 2 fucking weeks.

     

  • Letibleu

    congrats on your contest win grappo!!!! You get to be danas bitch for a weekend!!!

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    I tried to get him to agree to that night, but he said it’d be done by Saturday (day after) night.

    So there was a date, set by him, and he still Rumbled it.

  • subo

    TODAY’S THE DAY THE TEDDY BEARS HAVE THEIR PIIIIICNIC

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