Dong Hyun Kim continues to stump for Asian fighters everywhere. You may remember a few weeks ago he stirred the pot by calling the UFC ‘stingy and unfair’ in its dealings with foreign fighters. Keep in mind those are words chosen by the person who translated Dong’s words from Korean to English. I’m sure he really said something more political like ‘cheap-ass dickfaces.’
Now he’s back at it again, going into a bit more detail on the realities of being a Korean fighter trying to get by in the UFC. Key passages:
For Asian fighters we basically only have 4 to 5 days to adjust to a different culture and jetlag before we fight. On top of this disadvantage is that our financial situation and how much our fight money is taxed are completely different from American fighters.
Of course the rules regarding sponsorship are the same with all fighters. But I cannot accept the fact that on top of those financial differences, sponsors have to pay the UFC fifty thousand dollars just to have the opportunity to sponsor a fighter.
Also because the Korean market is different from the American market, I need to pay a lot of financial advisers to deal with those intricate business issues to make sure everyone gets the right cut of money. In another words, I basically have to give up on local Korean sponsors not only because it’s so expensive but because of all the complicated paperwork.
When I first started fighting in the UFC, if it wasn’t for the support of friends and family I would not have been able to afford to fight in the UFC.
Even if a popular Korean fighter is fighting on PPV, he is going to be paid the lowest sponsorship money by American companies because the fighter is not nearly as marketable in America as he is in Korea. That is why I believe the UFC has to give more leeway for local Asian sponsors to sponsor Asian fighters. That has been my thought from the start.
I am very thankful for the UFC and I am very content with my pay. So to be honest maybe I am not the fighter who should be complaining. But I am thinking about the young Korean fighters and other Asian fighters who will eventually compete in the UFC. I feel responsibility as an Asian UFC veteran to improve, even if it’s just a little, the financial environment for these fighters.
So now we have to wait and see whether the UFC decides to listen to Dong’s complaints and see if there’s anything to them, or if they put him on their ‘Dissidents and Agitators’ shitlist. Stun Gun has gone 1-2 over his past three fights so it’s not like he’s in a particularly powerful position here. But if you ignore the fact that he’s breaking one of the main unspoken rules in the UFC (“Don’t complain about pay to the press”), his requests aren’t that unreasonable:
- lift the 50k sponsorship fee for foreign companies sponsoring foreign fighters
- take double-dip taxing into consideration when negotiating a fair pay for foreign fighters
- the possibility of booking earlier flights for Asians to avoid jetlag issues
- a little help from UFC Asia HQ on navigating the intricacies of international law
Not unreasonable requests from a guy who, in the end, just wants to see the sport grow in his country and more success for Korean athletes.