Cholish retires, lobbies for undercard fighter pay

May 20, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that John Cholish retired after his match with Gleison Tibau at UFC on FX 8.  Despite leaving the UFC active roster, Cholish lobbied for the undercard fighters that they receive more pay.

Cholish, a Cornell grad, is going back to his day job at a commodities trading firm on Wall Street.  While Cholish’s future is solid, he spoke out for other fighters that live from fight to fight from the UFC and lobbied for better pay.

Cholish indicated that he may not break even regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s fight.  His last reported fight purse was $4,000 $6,000 to show and $4,000 $6,000 to win at UFC 140 (plus a $5K bonus per his interview on The MMA Hour on 5/20/13).  The low pay makes it hard to turn a profit for fighting considering the costs of training.

Payout Perspective:

Cholish pointed out an often ignored financial detail for fighters when looking at fighter payouts- paying for a support staff.  While coaches and training partners receive certain privileges for working with a fighter, the fighter must still compensate them for their time.  It’s interesting to note that Cholish was sponsored by MusclePharm and Alienware, two of the UFC’s official sponsors, yet still stated that he may not break even from Saturday’s fight.

Cholish could not give a solution to the fighter pay issue outside of a fighter’s union.   As we’ve discussed on prior occasions, it’s unlikely that a fighter’s union would occur under the Zuffa banner.  Since Zuffa is a private company, it does not reveal a lot of its finances which would hurt undercard fighters in terms of negotiating fight pay.  Moreover, taking a look at the released pay scales, most of the undercard fighters are slated in at a certain range and then are brought up in lockstep in terms of show and win bonuses.  The allure of fighting for the UFC (and its insurance) does help initially with fighting for less but Cholish points out that many fighters not on the main card are barely breaking even with costs and expenses after a fight.   Most are not as fortunate as Cholish and must cobble together other gigs while waiting for their next shot to fight on a UFC card.

8 Responses to “Cholish retires, lobbies for undercard fighter pay”

  1. Henry on May 20th, 2013 9:45 AM

    I’d like to see a minimum 10K/10K; 10K to show, 10 win bonus.

    4k/4k just seems too small.

  2. Machiel Van on May 20th, 2013 10:09 AM

    Cholish’s last reported payout was $6,000 to show at UFC on Fox 3 (why are all the media sites missing that?). A $10k minimum seems more sensible. Stories like this do not align with the UFC’s claim that they supposedly pay all their fighters well.

  3. Sampson Simpson on May 20th, 2013 10:59 AM

    As long as they pay more than their closest competitors. That’s all that matters.

  4. Jason Cruz on May 20th, 2013 1:22 PM

    Cholish said today on the MMA Hour that he made $6K/$6K at UFC 140 with a discretionary $5K bonus.

    He also said he lost b/w $5K-$10K this past Saturday.

    @MV – Was the report that he made $6K from the NJ Athletic Commission?

  5. BrainSmasher on May 20th, 2013 5:57 PM

    Ironic. The forums I used to chat on there was a couple people who complained the UFC needed to pay the bottom guys more. They claimed the minimum should be 5,000/5,000 when some guys would get 2,000/2,000. Now everyone is paid more than 5/5 and now people still aren’t happy. You think anyone would stop bitching if the UFC did go to a 10/10 system? Hell no!

    IMO, I don’t count you as a UFC fighters unless you are good enough to have more than 10 fights in the UFC. Anyone who only got 3 fights and was released should count their blessings they even got a chance. To think a feeder fighter brought from the minor league promotion thinks he “deserves” anything is crazy imo. MMA hasn’t made it to the point where new fighters have earned anything. Most new fighters in the UFC have few fights and haven’t done anything to sepperate themselves from hundreds or thousands of other lower level fighters. The UFC needs gives them a chance and they are either the next big thing or a feeder. I like the fact you cant cheat your way to the UFC and cash in. Is it really to much to ask for someone to be atleast decent and win some fights and make their money on the 2nd 3 fight contract? IMO anyone who wants to cash in on the 1st contract either has no confidence in their abilities or is a fraud.

  6. Machiel Van on May 21st, 2013 8:55 AM


    No, it looks like they were estimates since the NJSAC doesn’t disclose fighter salaries. I should’ve looked into it a bit more thoroughly.

  7. BrainSmasher on May 21st, 2013 3:56 PM

    Here is where I have a problem with this fighter and his complaints. He assumes the problem is pay rather than his own expenses. If I got get a house I cant afford the mortgage on. My job isn’t going to pay me more because of that. This fighters who was on his first 3 fight contract and was the 7th, 9th, and 12th fight on the card. Made a known $29,000 plus sponsors in less than 18 months. This guy isn’t fighting world champions. He is fighting other low level fighters. IF he cant afford top level training he shouldn’t be training at expensive schools. His opponents are not paying al their wages to train. IF he chooses to then it is his own sacrifice and problem. It is no more the UFC’s salary problem than it is his gyms cost problem. It is his own choice. $30,000 for a 3 fight deal while you prove yourself when you are a nobody is a damn good deal. If he would have went 2-1 or 3-0 he would have got a great deal and been happy. His real issue here is he went 1-2 and wasn’t going to get a raise due to his poor performance and is taking his ball and going home. 99% of the fighters in the UFC had to show confidence In their skill and tough out that first 3 fight deal to show they are UFC worthy. They earned more fights and was compensated handsomely. This guy has sour grapes because he just wasn’t good enough. He would have likely been released if he didn’t quit and he think he should have been able to leave the UFC like he was a superstar. This guy was the equivalent of a practice squad player in the NFL. For 17 weeks on everyday practice they are paid about $88,000. This guy made about half that for 3 fights and MUCH less work.

  8. Tops of on May 22nd, 2013 6:45 PM

    That’s right brainsmasher he should not train in expensive schools and go to what you call shithole boxing gyms hahaha..

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