It’s a broken record at this point, but most fans know that the UFC has a pay structure problem. Most sports leagues have unions which have negotiated for revenue splits, but the UFC’s archaic system leaves some (a good percentage) of its fighters barely making more than the Average Joe, despite being elite athletes in the biggest MMA promotion of all time.
The fact that the UFC doesn’t pay for training expenses, allow for personal sponsors and is generally defended thanks to some “back room bonuses” is unfortunate, but the lavish lifestyles of a few top earners allows for the current and former people behind the UFC point to a beacon of success and say, “see!” Sadly, many fighters make it to the pinnacle, end up losing money over becoming one of the best the sport has to offer. There are too many speaking up against this pay system to name, but former UFC owner (and now billionaire) Lorenzo Fertitta has emerged to defend his old ways.
“It’s the ones that never made it or were (ranked) 3 or 4 and just never got to that spot but to earn the millions you’ve got to get to the top. It’s no different than if you decide to be a professional golfer, you can be on the tour for a long time … but if you’re successful, you’re going to make millions and get the sponsors.”
Let’s start by saying that people on the PGA can play for years and years and through sponsors (which the UFC has all but gutted with the poorly-implemented Reebok deal) make a decent living wage by swinging a golf club. You see, I’m surprised that Lorenzo doesn’t know this, but in the UFC, people get punched and kicked in the head. In fact, the whole goal of fighting is to make your opponent either quit (tap out), knock them unconscious or until a ref deems they are finished, or go to the judges, where they will decide who beat up whom better. Furthermore, a top 3 or 4 fighter should be making a decent wage. They’re the elite of the elite, are they not?
Of course, fighters elect to punch and kick other people for a living, but at the very least they should be paid appropriately. They should be allowed to train as best they can, and UFC fighters shouldn’t have to hold a day job like many do.