Fitch discusses UFC salary

June 10, 2013

MMA Junkie reports on Jon Fitch’s response to Dana White’s comments about him.  In a video to promote his new promotion, World Series of Fighting, Fitch explained his grievances with the UFC.

In the video, from his official YouTube channel, Fitch detailed his 18 fight career salary with the UFC. He confirmed he made $300,000 in bonuses and $1,022,000 in salary.  Fitch indicated that he paid 20 percent of his salary to management and gym which he equated to making $176,000 per year before these fees.

While Fitch’s salary sounds good, he compared the amount of money that Zuffa made at the events he participated including PPV, gate and ancillary revenues.  Fitch stated that the UFC made $36 million in (15 of the 18 gates)  and $208 million in (4 of the 14) PPV revenue.  In the video, Fitch stated that he could not find all of the UFC financial information to back up his arguments.

Payout Perspective:

 Fitch seems to mean well but when you state you made over $1 million with the UFC its hard to empathize.  If you can look past this point, Fitch’s argument is that the UFC makes a lot of money at events and that it has the ability, in Fitch’s opinion, to pay fighters more.  The bigger issue is that he does not have all the financial information about what the UFC makes.  This seems like something that his management should have a grasp on and that Fitch should be made aware of.  Yet, it appears that both Fitch and his management are in the dark.

An underlying issue here is the amount Fitch paid (20% of his purse) to his management and gym.  This seems like a hefty price to pay although we don’t know how much work they did (i.e., securing sponsorships, training partners, gym time) in preparing Fitch for the fight.  And, of course, this does not include food, supplements, gear and miscellaneous expenses.   Should Fitch have negotiated a better deal with his agents? Or, should his agents have negotiated a better deal with the UFC?  From Fitch’s comments, it sounds like the salary scale is pretty set and not much room for negotiation.  Regardless of what you think of people like Fitch or John Cholish, they are trying to shed light on fighter pay.  There are always two sides to a story and at least we are starting to hear some of it from the fighter’s perspective.

11 Responses to “Fitch discusses UFC salary”

  1. BrainSmasher on June 11th, 2013 12:15 AM

    I wouldn’t say they are trying to shed light on fighter pay. They are bitching because they are no longer employed and info on fighter pay is just a bi-product.

    Like you said Fitch doesn’t have any useful info here. He also doesn’t mention all the things the UFC does for the fighters at all stages of their career and the sport with the money that isn’t done in boxing. Which is really the alternative here. Would Fitch make that much money if he was begging to fight on a Jon Jones undercard? I don’t think so.
    Fitch also refuses to count his sponsorship money but makes a point to mention the UFC gets sponsorship money. Maybe he knows people will be even less sympathetic when they find out he made closer to 3 million. Many athletes have a majority of their income from sponsor ships. Specifically racing and golf among others. I don’t know why fighters think that doesn’t count when that sponsor is directly related to being in the UFC and fighting on a platform only the UFC is offering. Often these sponsorship contracts for fights specifically mention a clause that pays them more for being on tv. We all know Fitch isn’t getting as many of his 20K appearance fees as a WSOF fighter as he was in the UFC. He also wont demand as much per fight in sponsorships. So that is indeed part of the pay of being a UFC fighter.

    Fitch seems to be under the impression that its the UFC’s job to pay all his expenses in life. What he pays his gym and manager is up to him. You can use the high end or the low end. But its his choice. My boss wouldn’t pay for my accountant. I also cant hire an expensive financial advisor and then piss and moan to my boss because it couldn’t afford it. Fitch is just being an entitled cry baby. His actions are so far of base from the rest of the world it is disturbing.

    Ev ery guy in the world would love to train at the best gym in the world. Not every can afford it. Some choose to make the investment. But that is their investment not the UFCs. If the UFC paid for this then every fighter would be at the same gym and they would raise their fees even more to weed people out. But there would stil be suckers paying it who cant afford it. Basically there is a lot of gyms wh charge less if having more money is that important to Fitch. He is an outside contractor. Like any contractor there is expenses in running your business. Gym, equipment, and management is part of that expense. The UFC has their own expense. Maybe Fitch should have promoted himself. Something the UFC did for him. He also didn’t mind fighting in states the UFC secured sanctioning. The UFC makes a lot of money. They also spend a lot to get the sport where it is and keep it going. They also risked a lot. They lost 40 million and risked much more than that. Risked 100’s of millions. They should be able to see a return on that investment at a generous rate since we are now 12 years into their run as owners. For that risk and the jobs created and the millionaires made. They derserve everything they got. I also think anyone who looks over the history of the UFC and sees how the UFC has increased pay as they have grown on a voluntary basis. They realize the UFC pays well and isn’t trying to screw anyone. If they wanted to screw people they could do it and get away with it. They pay much more than the going rate on almost every fighter.

  2. Tops of on June 11th, 2013 2:36 AM

    Boxing is mentioned in the article again? Where?Hahaha….you forgot to mention mc hammer b.s…..

  3. Diego on June 11th, 2013 4:51 AM

    This is a good analysis, though it also suffers from lack of hard data. Note that that’s not the analysts fault – the data simply isn’t available.

    The issue is that MMA is a very hard industry in which to make a living, for both fighters and promoters. I think we can all agree that the UFC does a better job than anyone in the world at making money as a promotion, and UFC fighters get paid more than any other MMA fighters in the world. However, the (apparent) disparity between what the fighters make and the promotion keeps is jarring. And in an industry that is so tough on it’s rank and file (meaning the fighters themselves) where competitors have very short shelf lives, and are often left with ongoing medical issues after they hang up their gloves, the amount of money that trickles down to them just doesn’t seem to be enough to live on, let alone plan for a comfortable retirement.

    That is what is grating to fighters like Cholish and Fitch as well as many others – remember that Werdum, Arlovski and Sylvia also left the UFC for pay reasons. I’m always a fan of fighters making more money since they are the ones taking the health risk. Promoters only take a financial risk and I don’t weigh the two equally.

    The question becomes how much is fair – which is very difficult to define. I would say that Fitch is doing well (i.e. his compensation is “fair”), but apparently he disagrees. Cholish I can empathize with a little more; he never made a lot of money, but then he also never got off the bottom rungs of the hierarchy. So maybe that’s also fair, or maybe not. Without a doubt, a system of compensation that allows fighters at the bottom rungs of the UFC (which is already the upper rungs of MMA) to train full time will help the sport and as such I would like to see the UFC invest in those fighters. They could double fighter pay at the bottom without seeming to take a big hit to their bottom line.

    The UFC has led the way with their health care coverage of fighters (though admittedly we’re unsure of the exact details of the health plan and the costs to the fighters themselves) and are head and shoulders above any other profitable promotion in terms of fighter pay. With that said, I think more can be done for the guys at the bottom.

  4. Diego on June 11th, 2013 4:52 AM

    Edit to the last line:

    With that said, I think more can be done for the guys at the bottom, for the betterment of the sport.

  5. Tops of on June 11th, 2013 4:56 AM

    Since b.s mentioned boxing…while fighters are complaining with UFC pay…bob arum just signed Japan’s Olympic gold medalist ryota murata…so now he will have Japanese market in partnership with a big Japanese promoter teiken..and zou shimming for the Chinese market…and pacman for the Philippine market…

    the plan would probably be all 3 in one card in Macau or Singapore against mexican or american fighter and shown live in the u.s. ppv market….global….it’s going to be huge if it happens because 2 of them being Olympic gold medalists…Eastern cultures put a big premium on athletes that competed for the country in the olympics more than a pure pro athlete

  6. Weezy02 on June 11th, 2013 5:55 AM

    “Eastern cultures put a big premium on athletes that competed for the country in the olympics more than a pure pro athlete.”

    Exactly. That’s why Hidehiko Yoshida’s MMA fights used to draw millions of viewers on domestic television (as many as 30 million once, reportedly).

  7. Sampson Simpson on June 11th, 2013 10:34 AM

    Koki Kameda still draws over 30 million viewers everytime he boxes. What Japanese MMA fighter drawsanything right now?

  8. Tops of on June 11th, 2013 1:45 PM

    Also Arum is solidifying the Asian high rollers ..according to ny times article.Vegas is happy whenever pacman fights there because he brings with him Asian high rollers from china and Japan (unique with pacman).china specifically with its booming economy has a lot of high rollers and by culture loves gambling….now they will have they’re own boxers from they’re country to cheer for and fight nearby in Macau or Singapore.
    When this happens arum will also have leverage or bidding between Vegas and Macau or singapore.

  9. Machiel Van on June 11th, 2013 2:11 PM

    Well, until fighters can change their status from independent contractors to employees and form a union, or can establish some other form of collective bargaining, the UFC will merely pay them what they think they’re worth in today’s market for pro-MMA talent. None of this is new: we’ve known for years that the UFC only shares a very small fraction of their revenue with the fighters. Hope Fitch can shine in WSOF but the bottom line in MMA seems to be that if the fans don’t really care about you, than neither does the organization. Fitch had plenty of fans, but there were far more who complained about his performances. In combat sports, especially ones driven by PPV, merely winning is not enough for promoters to want to invest more money into an fighter.

  10. BrainSmasher on June 11th, 2013 2:32 PM


    The problem with the UFC investing in the bottom rung fighters is they are not worth investing. MMA doesn’t have a great farming system like other sports. All other sports are drafting players who have been through rigorous training and compeitiion. Even if they draft a guy who flops like a Ryan Leaf. He is still light years above almost everyone else in ability. Even if he turned out to be a head case. That isn’t the case in MMA. There is no way to assure the guys who the UFC bring in have been tested and are the best guys in the country. They are to spread out fighting in local shows, fighting guys no one ever heard of who often have little to no training. There are guys in my gyms who are not very good fighters who I know are better than some of the guys the UFC brought in. Of course no one knows until we saw them finally fight someone. Since the smaller shows are not testing these guys and building them properly and fighters at that level are not traveling to fight the best they can find. Then the UFC will be forced to take chances on guys and many of them will end up being horrible fighters. The UFC shouldn’t be investing in someone who shouldn’t be there. It is inefficient to have poorly skilled fighters from a business stand point and it is also not safe.

    I would be all for a higher set minimum for guys who fight on the main card of a PPV event. But the under card of these PPVs and some of these TV events are used to find talent and do what the minor leagues of the sport are not doing. Keep in mind that NFL, NBA, and MLB has preseasons to allow people to try out and they cut the fat. The UFC doesn’t have a preseason. So they have to use their undercards to weed out the poor fighters. The UFC should be no more obligated to “invest” in these posers than the NFL does guys cut during preseason.

    If you are not on the main card of a PPV or at that level. I don’t consider you a good fighter. Typically those guys are expendable and guys I consider are trying to make the “team”. These people don’t deserve big money or long contracts because they have achieved anything yet. If people what things for the main card fighters I would support that. Those guys have achieved something and done something to contribute. They are successful and proven.

    Guys like Cholish who found ut they were not good enough should not be pulling resourced from our sport. I also don’t feel sorry for the bottom guys who claim they cant make a living. I know many guys who have made it to the UFC or to other bigger name Promotions from my gym. Yes they were single guys who didn’t have anything. But it was never an issue. These guys would stay with team mates while they train. Its not a big deal for a fighter to do that for a year or so until they earn their way up or find out they cant cut it. I cant tell you how many guys from my gym slept on rich franklins couch while they trained. Guys at these gyms pull together. Its a bachelor lifestyle. Yes it is hard to make a living at the very lowest level in the UFC. But none of them are at that level for more than a year or so. After that they either earned another larger contract or they found out they couldn’t cut it and need to find another way of making a living.

    Does anyone think these guys walking onto the NFL out of college have it any better? They are living the same way while they see if they can cut it or not. The guys are not supposed to make a living unless they are good enough.

  11. Weezy02 on June 11th, 2013 4:26 PM

    “Koki Kameda still draws over 30 million viewers everytime he boxes. What Japanese MMA fighter drawsanything right now?”

    No one (boxing or MMA) draws close to Kameda in Japan. Satoshi Ishii garners about half that viewership, from what I hear. Boxing is definitely bigger in Japan than MMA, however.

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