Kevin Iole a respected sports writer wrote this very well laid out article about fighter pay in the UFC being fair. His piece is lucid, concise and I don’t agree with it at all. He compares the payouts in boxing to the payouts in MMA and adroitly shows the parity between the two sports regarding fighter pay. His argument makes sense but is flawed. It’s like comparing the employee pay of workers at Walmart and Target. Both companies pay the same…but should both not be paying more? My position has always been the disparity between what the non main event fighters (the lowest paid guys) and the corporate profits of Zuffa are. I’m sure there are a few millionaire fighters in the UFC…but I’d wager that there are many more thousandaires.
A fan on the underground had this to say:
Just because boxing pays like shit doesn’t mean the UFC should. There are people in china making $1 a day to manufacture your iPhone. Should we make that the minimum wage in the us?Sure that is the what the market will bear but zuffa does us all a disservice. That low pay all but ensures we will never have a steady stream of top prospects because people with that sort of athletic talent will go do something else, even if that something else is teaching high school wrestling.
What Iole does not mention is the expenses a fighter incurs simply getting to an event. The UFC pays for two round trip plane tickets and one hotel room…that’s it. A typical fight team consists of the fighter and THREE cornermen. That means the fighter is responsible to buy two additional plane tickets and one additional hotel room. That’s not including the cost of visa’s should a country require them. Lets say a fighter is fighting in England and is making 8000/8000. Assuming he wins he gets 16k. Let do some simple math.
A round trip ticket to London and one additional hotel room is $1800 X 2 cornemen=$3,600. Lets say that each cornerman is going to get $500 for working the event. That an additional $1500. The UFC gives the fighters a per diem for food. That leaves the rest of the team responsible for their own meals for about 4 days. Who is paying for that the fighter? Lets add another $100/day per cornerman for meals. That’s $1200 for meal allowances. Between the additional airfare and hotel room, cornerman pay and meals the additional cost to the fighter is $6,300…nearly half of his pay (assuming he wins). I’m not even factoring in the taxes in both the U.S and England and the training expenses leading up to the fight. I’d say it’s possible that on an 8/8 fight in Europe a UFC fighter might actually lose money! Don’t think for a second that most of the expenses can be made up from sponsorship money. The UFC has a “tax” on fighter sponsorship. I’ve heard they charge around 50k/ sponsor. That means that even before a potential sponsor gets to the fighter they are extorted 50k by the UFC first. I personally know UFC fighters that fought on the non televised portion of the card that got ZERO money from sponsors.
Many fans say “if a fighter does not like his pay he can do something else.” O.k..o.k let me address that retort. You are a software engineer and your company is bought out by the biggest software company on earth…the only one in fact. You are told that if you have two bad work days in a row you are fired. You see the top executives in the company driving outrageously expensive cars and making incredible money while you are paid the minimum. When you are given travel assignments the brunt of the financial responsibility falls on you. If you speak out or ask for more money you are denied work or given assignments that are so difficult failure is assured which results in your termination. You can’t go to another software company because the conglomerate you work for has bought all of its competition. Keep in mind that your company is profitable…very profitable. They are paying you the minimum because they can get away with it, because you have very few options. F’n shame actually. Shame on you UFC.