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Veteran UFC Fighter: “We’re Paid Like Entertainers When We Should Be Paid Like Athletes”

With everyone eagerly anticipating ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on fighter pay in the UFC, reporters Josh Gross and John Barr have released some excerpts from an interview conducted with who they call “Fighter X”.

Excerpts from an interview “Outside the Lines” conducted with a current veteran UFC fighter who has been in the sport of mixed martial arts for more than a decade.

“I try to fight three times a year. I’m in the middle tier of fighters. I make between $20,000 to $28,000 to show and $20,000 to $28,000 to win. That’s terrible pay when you think about how many millions these guys [UFC ownership] are making.
“Their business practices are hardcore and cut-throat. We’re paid like entertainers when we should be paid like athletes. They want us hungry. They want us to be poor … so they have more control over us.
“We have to pay a boxing coach, a wrestling coach and pay for all of our supplements. We have training insurance, but we’re not covered with complete medical coverage.
“Training expenses in an average year can run $22,000, and that’s with no travel. For a typical fight, you and your corner man share a room. You fly in on Tuesday and leave Sunday and get a $50 per day per diem. If you bring anybody extra, they take it out of your show money.
“They make the fans out to think that they give out all these bonuses. They’re [the bonuses] $5,000 to $10,000 on average. Most of the locker room bonuses I’ve seen are $5,000.
“If you’re winning all your fights, it’s good [Fighter X says he made $80,000 in his best year]. But we have no retirement. We’re not employees. We’re all independent contractors. Just like in boxing, 10 to 15 years from now, just like you see a lot of old, broke boxers, you’re going to see a lot of old broke MMA fighters.”

“Outside the Lines” will air Sunday at 10am on ESPN 2.