MMA fighting

Dan Hardy: “Not a good look” for UFC as fighters begging for money, everyone “scrambling for leftovers”

While the UFC continues to boast record profits since the start of the global pandemic, the promotion still faces a lot of bad eyes when it comes to paychecks handed out to fighters.

While compensation for fighters has been a constantly debated topic, UFC owner and Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel recently hit back at these claims while touting Conor McGregor as the highest-paid athlete in the sport. Meanwhile, UFC President Dana White regularly lashes out at anyone who questions the paychecks his athletes receive, including recent battles with Oscar De La Hoya and Jake Paul over the matter.

At the same time, UFC athletes such as Jared Cannonier have openly stated that he has to fight more frequently because he will ‘break’ while sitting on the sidelines due to an injury. . Former Contender Series winner and UFC strawweight Cheyanne Buys said she was negative in her bank account before a recent fight, which was resolved after the UFC gave her a bonus after the fight after an impressive victory.

UFC veteran Dan Hardy can’t help but criticize the current UFC pay model when he sees fighters like Cannonier and Buys celebrating their victories in promoting the most mixed martial arts. largest and most profitable in the world while openly admitting that they are in financial jeopardy at the same time.

“It’s not pretty,” Hardy said while speaking to MMA Fighting. “I also don’t think it’s a good idea for someone like Brian Kelleher to say he’s looking for a YouTuber to fight so he doesn’t have to find a job at WalMart after he’s finished his career. . Then there is the other fighter [Sarah Alpar] that she opened a GoFundMe account.

“It’s just not nice, especially when you have fighters on one side starting GoFundMe accounts and on the other side the UFC is signing $ 175 million contracts that the fighters won’t see.” not a dime. It’s disappointing.”

Much of the problem, according to Hardy, is the post-fight bonuses paid by the UFC after each event. The extra $ 50,000 – or sometimes increased to a different amount – resulted in a multitude of fighters essentially begging for that money after a big win.

While bonuses can be a nice reward for a great performance, Hardy believes paying fighters a better salary would be the first step in fixing the problem.

“The environment that has been created by the UFC is that everyone is scrambling for leftovers,” said Hardy. “It’s all about the bonus. Why can’t it be the salary? Make sure these fighters are covered before getting in there so they don’t fight with a deficit and hope a bonus bail them out. The reality is we know the money is being made now.

Since the owners of Endeavor’s UFC are now a publicly traded company, more information on the promotion’s finances has become available in recent months.

In numerous documents, Endeavor has touted the massive success of the UFC, especially since the onset of the global pandemic with the promotion raking in huge profits through pay-per-view and now ticket sales since fans returned to the arenas in record numbers.

“We know the money is made in the sport of MMA. He just can’t find his way to the fighters, ”Hardy said. “This has to change. This must change. It has been the same in other sports in previous times and the change has been moved so that 50% or more of the profit goes to the fighters. This is how it should be. We all know that. I can say it as much as I want now.

Typically, in all other major sports such as football or basketball, athletes reap about 50 percent of the profits in addition to ownership and these numbers are negotiated as part of a collective agreement.

Because there are no fighters unions that exist in mixed martial arts, it’s basically every man or woman for themselves when it comes to negotiating contracts in any promotion in the sport.

It seems unlikely that will change anytime soon, but Hardy believes that a huge benefit is that other options popping up that are now available to fighters have made a big difference when it comes to the pay structure in MMA.

“I don’t think there is a better [advertisement] for other organizations than when people like Corey Anderson switch to Bellator and say, “I’m getting paid a lot more than I was with the UFC,” Hardy said. “Paige VanZant goes boxing with her bare hands and makes ridiculous amounts more than she was with the UFC. It’s making people realize that the money is being made.

“I think the more fighters there are obviously MMA is growing in general as well, and we need more space for those fighters to compete, but I think the fighters are realizing that the options are so much more. large. Before they put pen to paper on an organization, they have options to consider. Cage Warriors just did a show in the US in California, obviously the PFL is really strong right now, Invicta just changed hands and I’m interested to see where they go. It’s an exciting time to be a part of MMA and the options are starting to open up for fighters.

In the long run, Hardy is hoping the UFC will change its business practices because while it will cost them a lot more money to pay fighters a higher share of the profit, he believes the long-term benefits would be all the greater. for promotion health and sport.

“Brian Kelleher is a good example – we want Brian Kelleher, when he retires, to be happy and proud to have been in the UFC, to love the UFC because he feels like he is a part something big and have enough money in his back pocket to go back to his hometown and open a gym and train the next group of young fighters, ”Hardy said. “But if these guys, like Ryan Benoit, I know he worked at UPS for a while while he was considering retiring. We don’t want to lose Ryan Benoit to UPS. We want him to have his MMA gym.

“We don’t want Kelleher checking people at WalMart. We want him to have his MMA gym or be a judge or a referee or something like that. We need these guys in sports. It is neglecting the base by underpaying the fighters. It cuts off their options and then stifles the next generation of fighters. This will affect the level of MMA overall in the years to come. If the UFC is smart, they’ll start spending a little more money so that fighters can put more back into the industry. This is ultimately where their money is going to go.