John Cholish is doing fighters everywhere an important public service by burning his UFC bridges and talking about UFC pay – specifically, how shitty new guys have it and how you’re lucky to break even on an entry level fight contract. He was on the Great Debate podcast earlier this week to elaborate:
“This is just gym fees, travel expenses, making sure you’re eating the right stuff, and not talking day-to-day stuff like breakfast, lunch and dinner. More like supplements, training gear, all that top to bottom. I’d say roughly between $4,000 to $6,000 a month when you look at it,” Cholish revealed. “Again, I live in New York City so I understand costs may be a little bit higher than they are other places, but it’s expensive to train at top places and with individuals.”
“So, for example, when I had my fight in Toronto, you have to pay for two additional flights for two coaches. You have to pay for another hotel room, which they make you get there on Monday or Tuesday. So it’s usually for four or five nights so that adds up,” Cholish explained. “I choose to take care of my coaches’ meals while they are there. Again, I don’t think they should have to pay out of pocket to be there. For Brazil as well there was a $500 visa fee, that was included for coaches.
“You also have to pay for your corner licensing, you have to pay for your medicals before the fight, so it might not seem like a lot but when you start adding it together. Especially a flight to Brazil costs $1,500 or $1,600 a piece and you’re only making $8,000, it chips away pretty quickly.
Fighting in Brazil, Cholish explains that the tax is 27 percent of the take home pay. In his case his contracted rate to fight was $8,000 (he would have won an additional $8000 with a win). Before he receives any pay from the UFC, Brazil taxes take $2,160 from his $8,000 paycheck. “Brazil takes 27 percent before you even get the money. That comes right out,” Cholish said. “Same thing as Canada, they take their money before you leave.”
On top of the taxes taken by each individual country, the fighters are still responsible for paying taxes in their home country of origin as well.
Cholish can say all this without fear of reprisal because he announced he would be retiring after his fight in Brazil, mainly over the sucker financial situation he was stuck in. Jacob Volkmann is also getting in on the Zuffa pay shit talking now that he’s in the World Series of Fighting:
They always claim that they treat the fighters so well. Yeah, they treat the top five percent of the fighters well – the ones that are on the main card all the time. They don’t treat the rest of them very well. The healthcare plan is horrible, with a $1,500 deductible per injury – the catastrophic-injury insurance is not even really good insurance. There’s no retirement fund, there’s no signing bonus. You start off at six-and-six, you’re really not making too much money because you’re self-employed, so you’re paying the self-employment tax and you’re paying the regular tax and income tax. So you’re paying twice as much in tax. They claim they’re treating the fighters well, but they’re not, realistically. People always tell me, ‘You’re rich – you’re on TV!’ Are you kidding me? I made $54,000 two years ago, paid $9,000 in taxes, so that leaves me with $45,000. This last year, I made $50,000 and paid $8,000 in taxes. That leaves me with $42,000 – that’s barely above poverty. I have three kids and a wife I’m supporting. I’m trying to make the fans realize what the UFC is really like – I’m going to expose them as much as I can.
How much skin off the UFC’s ass would it be to set a reasonable entry level payscale – like 20k / 20k? Dana White always talks about how boxing screwed up because they didn’t invest back into the sport. Well, there’s no better way to invest in a sport’s future than to pay a fair wage to up and coming fighters so they don’t have to work part time jobs or stress about how they’re supposed to support their family if they lose.
(pic by Jason de Silva for USA Today)