So nobody could forget a sale like $4 Billion could they? I mean lets be real the UFC owners are now dealing with a variety of consequences as a result of this, one major point being Fighters getting angry in unison.
Fighters are brave, and with all the big money still mostly being made by the suits, the CEO’s, Directors and Shareholders –
UFC and MMA fighters in general are becoming more vocal about their income they make fighting, and that they should be paid much more money, as the reverberations of a $4 billion dollar purchase by WME-IMG from the Fertitta brothers and Zuffa are still felt.
It’s never a great look for any sport, when the athletes involved are continually complaining about their income being too low – well this is what we are beginning to increasingly see in the UFC as the grand opening of the UFC Athletes Retreat recently highlighted. So this is why more UFC fighters and people associated with the sport of MMA like myself are speaking up about fighters pay, rights and Equality.
But before we get into the pluses and minuses with the current status quo, here’s a video showing that many fighters had a great time at the event –
Whats the deal with this Athletes Retreat?
From May 19th-21st in Las Vegas over 300 active UFC fighters were in attendance for the unveiling of the UFC Performance Institute, a free program allowing fighters and coaches to learn new techniques based in weight cutting, recovery, and training exercises which is pretty cool.
Also there was the addition of a visits, speeches and performances from the likes of Dana White, Kobe Bryant, Michael Strathan, loads of random Reebok, Budweiser and UFC reps, all capped with a lovely Snoop Dogg performance.
Now like I say, while many UFC fighters in attendance seemed to enjoy the event on the whole, posting pictures on social media with celebrities having a party basically, with some good comrade building happening between fighters.
But outside of this there was plenty of problems –
Things got heated
Now firstly multiple fighters had some strong constructive remarks, criticisms and direct annoyances to say about the event, with the likes of: Kajan Johnson, Leslie Smith, Cat Zingano, Al Iaquinta and others all have had interesting things to say about the event.
However what most of this feedback was centred around was the need for an MMA Fighters Union, and improved fighter pay scale/benefits.
As various speakers made speeches to the fighters about how much money they were making and “their visions” many of the fighters were seen rolling their eyes at each other, and understandably as all of the speakers are earning huge amounts of money in comparison to the fighters.
While the Kobe Bryant speech seemed to be well received regarding Unions, many other speakers just annoyed the fighters causing Kajan Johnson for instance to go on a full blown rant during a speech, and Al Iaquinta to make a scathing interview on the MMA Hour recently where he didn’t have much nice to say about the whole event or the UFC in general, capped with a very direct “I don’t give a fuck about Snoop Dogg, fucking pay me” comment.
Here’s the full animated rant he made –
Then on top of this we had Cris Cyborg punching Angela Magana for disrespectful remarks, Mike Perry pushing Jeremy Stephens over for touching his girlfriend, Al Iaquinta raging at everyone, and a few other more minor scuffles.
Its safe to say there was some tension in the air at certain moments, despite some great progressive fighter unification and general fun also coming out of the event.
When will those that do the work get the rewards?
Say what you want to me about marketing, and how to “run a business” but in reality when a huge pie is being baked, and the main reason it is being baked is because of the main ingredients – the blood, sweat and tears of the fighters, then the slices should be an even cut between the fighters and the UFC owners.
In this world it never makes sense to have people that do the hardest work getting the least pay, and those that do the least getting the most. Some business owners in the world are deluded to believe that keeping all the money and giving your staff as little as possible, in a slave trade style is the best way to run a business.
But in reality from the bottom to the top of any company, everyone should have the potential to make as much money as possible, in order to optimise morale and effort, which is conducive to some truly profound sustainable business growth.
In all other professional sports we see a much fairer slice of the pie for all athletes as the revenue share hovers around a 50/50 split, causing the athletes to be rewarded equally as the owners.
This is how it must become in MMA asap, because while it is a new sport in terms of the modern world in comparison to other sports – but in reality unarmed combat is actually the first sport humanity ever learnt.
Go back millions of years, as far back as human culture has existed on this planet, in any part of the globe, there has been unarmed combat and the development of various Martial Arts.
Owners and Fighters need to cooperate
Also what needs to be understood by UFC owners, is that MMA fighters go through more physical pain then any other sport, therefore the need for funds to pay for the best strength and conditioning programs, coaching, nutrition and recuperation, is higher then in any other sport.
On top of this in general the owners must realise that fighter happiness is paramount to the development of the sport, because let me tell you something as a lifelong martial artist – When a martial artist isn’t financially respected in prize fighting, he will immediately be disgruntled, will reduce his effort, not necessarily in training, but in terms of his or her support for the fight promotion.
So It’s time to stop making everyone bitter, just like in society in general people need a safety net of financial security in order to do the amazing jobs they do.
But yes it is a business though, so UFC fighters also need to understand that when it comes to the business you do need to promote yourself and the fights – no that doesn’t mean being Conor McGregor before anyone thinks it, because Conor is his own man.
But he is skilled at promotion, and everyone has to learn this side of the game, so don’t shy away from cameras, or your real thoughts about things. You don’t need to be a brash idiot all the time, but putting on a little promotional persona will take you a a long way in this business as it is structured today with Hollywood giants WME-IMG running the company.
WME-IMG manage celebrities and a huge part of that is promotion – so a message to all fighters is get your name out there! But do it organically, don’t ask the UFC for promotional dollars because that part of the game is up to you.
But cooperation is the key to making this all work, so UFC owners needs to massively uplift general fighter pay, as well as benefits, and even the addition of a type of government funded basic income for fighters would be awesome.
And UFC fighters need to start learning and implementing their own promotional tactics outside of the cage, in order to maximise your ability to pull a crowd and make bigger ticket/pay per view sales for the owners.
Speaking of tickets, if your wondering how much are UFC Tickets, then you can check out the prices and book tickets for UFC 213 in My Post.
Anyway I hope you enjoyed this post, that all for now, so any comments let me know below, and until next time, from Marley at the MMAGateway – adios amigos!