Hello everyone and welcome back,
It’s been a while, I know. I have a very good reason too. I will elaborate soon with a relevant post, but for now suffice to say – I’m writing.
While my creative juices are running, I take some methodical brakes to check what’s going on in the outside world and what I see there these past couple of weeks is the motivation for this post, namely, the increase in conversation regarding fighters pay.
I’ve got some links for you at the bottom of this post and they’re all interesting. I would like to voice my opinion about this subject here, and answer some of these arguments, especially those made by UFC president Dana White. It is quite a long post, but I think it’s worth diving a little deeper than mere news reporting on this topic.
The two incidents (if that’s what we can call them) that sparked this recent debate include the post event interview with Donald Cerrone in which the “Cowboy” voiced – in his colorful way – his dissatisfaction with his current income and more so, the statement made by Joanne Calderwood, following her phenomenal performance against top contender Valerie Letourneau. For those of you who just returned from that Mars mission – she said plainly that she’s broke.
Of course, there’s that overarching Reebok deal that overshadows all and any discussion of fighters income. We will touch on that throughout this post.
We’ve heard the side of the fighters. Now, I’d like to pay close attention to some of Dana White’s recent statements, as expressed in interviews and other media outlets (See links below). The main points of contention as per Mr. White seem to be:
Fighter’s performance vs. his/her salary expectations.
Objection to unionized labor.
Unrealistic expectations from the public, especially – in Dana’s view – due to their lack of knowledge.
Let’s talk about this, shall we?
Dana White regarding performance (Credit lowkick mma):
“‘Cowboy’ – again, a guy that I love – hasn’t always taken everything so serious. You can’t be (expletive) rock climbing two days before your fight or wakeboarding the day of your fight. Some of the stuff that this guy does – you want to make that serious, big money, you have to get in the right mindset. The way he looked the other night against Patrick Cote is the way you have to fight when you fight dos Anjos or Diaz or any of the big guys. When you get to that big fight, you have to win.”
In that 115-pound division, you don’t see finishes, the way she finished Valerie,” White continued. “And, Valerie went five rounds with Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Joanna didn’t do that to her. We’re going to take care of her, and we’re going to sign her to a new deal.
I hope you can spot the contradictions. Cowboy is apparently everything Dana wants about a UFC fighter. I can’t argue with that… I am not familiar with a more game fighter, willing to fight anyone at any time, always looking for a finish, personable and respectful (Mindset anyone?). In my humble opinion, Cerrone is more identifiable with what UFC ever wanted than Rousey or Conor (which Dana puts over all the time). So, having said that, how can anyone NOT expect him to be paid at the very least on the same level?
Dana then proceeds to say that Cowboy needs to win those big fights. Here’s a partial list of Cerrone’s victims: Benson Henderson (former UFC LW champ), Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez (Current UFC LW contender), Edson Barboza, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira. On every promo, Joe Rogan (who works for Dana) calls these guys “Elite fighters”, “Top fighters” etc. So yes. Cowboy has losses. So do Conor and Ronda. Big F’ing deal.
Calderwood finishes a great fighter in a division where – Dana’s words – “you don’t see finishes”. How come she’s broke? It simply does not make sense at all.
Now Dana likes to speak and does a lot of that. Most of all he likes to say how he’d like every fighter to look for the finish, not leave it to the judges, entertain the fans. Well?… These guys do. These guys don’t play games or avoid competitors.
Miesha Tate won the title in UFC 196. She didn’t even make half of what then champion Holly Holm made. Why?
Now, as for his more recent comments about being on par with NFL and NBA… please…
As a 14-year-old kid (who destroyed him on twitter…) said. 9000$ to get beat up for 3 rounds? Really? That’s on par with NFL or NBA?
Really? pay days such as 12,000 or even 25,000 are on par with NFL or NBA?
Keep in mind that a very active fighter has no more than 4 of these pay days a year (Unless he’s… u-hum Cowboy Cerrone…). Is that on par with NBA and NFL?
Do the NBA or NFL dictate to their superstar who they can sign sponsorship deals with?…
I don’t even need to know more about it to say that it’s quite clear UFC is far from being on par with these organizations. You know, just for the hell of it, check these very simple google results…
Let’s talk union for a minute.
I’m not here to promote Socialism, Communism or any ism for that matter. In the end of the day, UFC IS a privately owned company, and who the heck am I to make demands? I’m not making any demands, I simply say that in my opinion there’s a gap that needs to be filled.
The fighters are risking their health to make a profit for the company. Sure, they choose to. That still doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be compensated fairly. Dana can talk all he wants about any given event (like he chooses to focus on UFCOttawa instead of other much more profitable ones), but in the great scheme of things, it seems highly unreasonable that a guy like Conor makes millions while rookies (who risk their health at least equally) should earn so much less. I’m not saying pay everyone the same. Again, no isms. I’m saying be reasonable.
How can that be achieved?
Find the golden number. What is a reasonable annual income? for someone who’s expected to be a professional fighter (as in – consider fighting is their one and only job). Divide it by 3. Make that sum a minimum pay per fight. You wanna reward exceptional achievements and people who generate more income? Great, like any other business, pay them more. But it’s simply unforgivable that a lady like Jo Jo should have to beg…
Now Dana also reminded us how Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture fought for peanuts. They are legends. They deserve everyone’s respect for paving the way. We also had slavery in the past. You know, who needs to pay these guys, right? Come on Dana, what are you a 14-year-old? Oh, sorry, 14 year olds know what’s right.
Pay your fighters fairly please. The benefits are greater than any loss.
What is your opinion?
Am I making sense here?
What would you do in Dana’s shoes?