How Do Money?
Being a mixed martial artist isn't exactly easy, by anyone definition of the word. You have to get your stand-up training in. You need to work on your wrestling. You'd better work on your submissions too, or else you look like a chump when a BJJ blue belt subs you with a rear naked choke in a fight. You have to work on your cardio. You need to get in your weight training.
There's a lot to do, is the point I'm trying to make. It's a lot to balance. You would expect these hardworking athletes would make comparable sums of money to other athletes, right?
Well, this is not the case. At all. Not even close.
The dynamics of being a fighter are pretty different from most athletes we see on a day by day basis. Fighters are paid per appearance, not a salary. What this means is if you're not fighting, you're not getting paid. And how often you're fighting is not up to you. The situation is akin to trying to make your living performing a job where you have no set pay and no rigid schedule.
So the overall system of getting paid isn't exactly favorable. But the money is good, right?
Dana, y u no share?
Again, not exactly. Sure, big name fighters get good money. But what about lesser-known fighters? Despite his fan base, Chan Sung Jung was only promised a 5,000 dollar purse for his fight. Sure, his solid performance ended up winning him another 65,000 or so, but that is only by virtue of winning and showing off an amazing submission. What if those didn't happen? The Korean Zombie would have went home with 5,000 dollars for all his hard work, and that could possibly have been his only fight of the year.
Now, I have no problem buying the Pay-Per-Views. Even if they're not fights I'm particularly excited about, I'll still try to dish out the fifty dollars to watch it with the understanding some of that money will make it back to the fighters.
How much though? Certainly not a lot. I'm not saying that the UFC and ZUFFA shouldn't be able to turn a profit. I would just like to see some uniformity in the pay grades instead of having people making less then a minimum wage salary to making 500,000 a fight. Mixed martial arts is certainly big enough to afford that.
Last edited by Kickapoo; 4/06/2011 2:48pm at .
Forget trying to make money is you're still a local, newbie fighter with no real reputation. I have to teach at 3 separate places AND work part time just to support myself enough to be able to train 2-3 times a day.
But there's nothing like stewpping away from the cage with another win, knowing how much hard work and sacrifice went into it
The benefit that modern MMA fighters have is fees for teaching seminars and teaching privates. These are avenues that weren't as widely available to guys even 10 years ago.
The guys at the TOP of the sport, which is to say, the UFC should be making a minimum of 20k to fight and 20k to win, with 3 fights a year. That way you make enough money to live comfortably on. That's the TOP of the sport. I'm not saying EVERY MMA fighter should be making that, but every UFC fighter should be. If a fighter isn't worth that, then they should NOT be in the UFC. Send them to Sharkfights, or use Strikeforce to build their name up or something.
Bottom line is that if you are in the premier organization for the sport then you should not be struggling to make a living.
I wonder if this will change as the sport grows in popularity. Take baseball for example. The sport is 135 years old as a professional game. For the majority of that time, pro baseball players were in a similar situation as you're describing. Sure, old time greats like Babe Ruth made pretty good money, but often they were making more than the whole rest of their team combined. It wasn't really until the 1970's that big time salaries started becoming commonplace. It wasn't until the 1980's that if you made the big show, you were making big money regardless.
I wonder if, similarly, as MMA grows and, moreover, shows a lot of sustainability that things will change. Hopefully the day will come where fighters are paid salaries (and bonuses for big wins, etc.), and get a minimum number of fights per year.
That's the problem when there's only one big game in town.
Alistair Overeem disagrees... disagreed. Him and the other fighters still haven't been paid for the K1 GP 2010.
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Fighters know (or should know) how the business works up front. They know they're not going to make **** unless they become an elite fighter. They're making a huge gamble when they choose fighting as a profession. Risk = reward. They're taking a major risk that they'll never make any money to speak of. The potential reward is that they'll become famous millionaire fighters.
I wouldn't whine about a fighter being a stupid overpaid athlete when he makes a truckload of money from winnings and endorsements as a champion. And I'm not going to cry because some fighter has to sleep in the gym either.
A fighters' union is the answer...that or another mega-promotion, that can potentially draw fighters away - to up the stakes pay-wise. Until that happens, though, fighting will be like music, somewhat.
If you have a band, you make what you can demand, without being passed up for someone who's more willing to play ball.
Though a lot of the live music industry is based on ticket sales....beneath the headliners, there are thousands upon thousands of opening acts, bar acts, and five-bands-a-night club acts earning only what they can scrape, and in the case of opening acts (local, not touring), make nothing, (or only what you can get for 5 or 10 free tickets, you can sell).
In order to be signed to a label, bands often give away the lions share of money for album/music sales, and often owe for the recording, video, and setup fees (the cost of making the units, in the first place). The higher you 'climb', the less say you have, and less contractual freedom.
Fighting, like music, involves so many disparate personalities, nationalities, and degrees of savvy, that promoters, and the very biggest stars, will likely be the only ones to bathe in the money, for some time.
Being a contracted MMA fighter is out of the world money to your average elite level Judoka. My coach spent most of his 10 years on the national sqaud on the dole. They were all utterly dirt poor as they couldn't take time off training to even get part time jobs. They had to scrimp and save and grab whatever cheap shitty temp work they could find to eek out a few quid.
One of the jobs he tried was as a door to door salesmen for a loan shark. After a few days of trooping round dirt poor council estates he rang a door bell and a guy came charging out with a massive **** off machete threatening to chop his arms off if he ever cam around again. So he packed that one in.
Neil Adams and other figures in Judo would help them out where they could with hook ups and odd jobs like painting the house, but none of those guys were flush either.
Basically combat sports which don't have massive global tv coverage don't pay. And if you choose to make your living from them you have to accept its going to be a hard life and when you're done the best you can hope for is a barley functioing body and not to be in massive debt.
Its ****, but life isn't fair.
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