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David

The 2020 MMA general news, events and thoughts thread

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In truth, ever since they got into bed with ESPN all the fighters are dispensable. Obviously you'd rather keep proven difference makers like Conor or Jones, but UFC are very clearly wary of not giving too much because they don't have to (as you mentioned, the joys of a monopoly) and they'll not want to break their pay structure. The reason the current owners were so excited by the company, despite the high cost of the buyout, was they pay very little of their revenue towards fighters. They obviously looked at that and also saw the huge growth in the TV money for live sports and realised it's a very profitable business. They'll run it like a business and not a sport.

Regardless, it's important the fighters try and push against the current pay structure. We all know Dana is proper sensitive when the issue of fighters pay comes up, so making it public means it's a constant sore point for him.

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Just now, ColinBollocks said:

Regardless, it's important the fighters try and push against the current pay structure. We all know Dana is proper sensitive when the issue of fighters pay comes up, so making it public means it's a constant sore point for him.

The problem is, Dana's one of those types who if you push against him, you'll pay for it. He doesn't respond well to people trying to strong-arm him. As far as going public, he'll just whitewash the fighters concerns with his usual bluster about how fighters who want to make more money have to earn it by winning fights and selling PPV's and so on.

Masvidal made just over half a million dollars base for his fight with Nate, which is similar to what Jones makes. Although Masvidal also earned PPV points for the Diaz fight, which was unusual for a non-champion. But, taking that into account we can look at the info that was uncovered during the UFC Anti-Trust lawsuit to get a decent idea of what that means in dollars for someone like Masvidal.

So, apparently it works something like this: Fighters get $1 for every PPV sold between 200,000 and 400,000. They get $2 for every PPV sold between 400,000 and 600,000. And they get $2.50 for every PPV sold over 600,000.

Going on the basis of UFC 244 selling 925,000 buys, Masvidal would have received 200,000 x $1, 200,000 x $2, and finally 350,000 x $2.50. 

That's a total of $200,000 + $400,000 + $875,000. So, on PPV points alone Street Jesus took home $1.475 million.

Add that to his disclosed base pay of $500,000 to fight and $20,000 fight week appearance money and Masvidal earned $1.995 million for his fight with Nate, before taxes and any other bonuses he would have gotten from Reebok or other shit like that.

That's decent coin.

It looks to me like the $500,000 mark is what fighters who are on that second-tier of superstardom sit. The top tier is obviously a penthouse apartment where Conor lives on his own, snorting coke and punching old people.

Fighters who can generate anywhere between 700,000 to 950,000 PPV buys are in the half a million dollar bracket. That's basic pay, of course. We all know that these guys walk away with a bit more in bonuses and so on.

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Great article here from The Athletic about how much fighters actually take home at the end of the day.

Quote

The question has always been one of the sport’s most difficult to answer, in part because of the culture of secrecy that’s obfuscated fighter pay for years at the sport’s highest levels: How much money do mixed martial arts fighters really earn?

Unlike other major professional sports leagues such as the NBA, where LeBron James’ $37.4 million salary for the 2019-20 season is public information, monetary figures in MMA have largely been privatized, leaving consumers in the dark about certain financial aspects of the sport.

The most constructive information available publicly is often the official purse reports released by a handful of sanctioning bodies in the aftermath of events they regulate. Those disclosures, such as the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s payout report for UFC 248 in March, are helpful but ultimately misleading.

As a hypothetical example, let’s say Nevada reported a foreign-based fighter earned $100,000 for a UFC main-event bout in Las Vegas. Is that number correct?

Well, yes and no.

There are myriad reasons why a fighter’s true take-home pay will differ significantly from the figure the commission discloses. On the positive side, additional streams of income such as sponsorship earnings, pay-per-view revenue and fight-night bonuses don’t get included in commission reports — and a bonus and a cut of the pay-per-view revenue can push a six-figure purse clear into the seven-figure range. But just the same, there are ample reasons why an MMA fighter’s true income may pale in comparison to the official number that a sanctioning body announces. The latter case is especially common for non-champions who don’t get a taste of the pay-per-view pie, a group that makes up a majority of the sport’s athletes throughout the various major fight promotions.

So the question still stands: How much money do MMA fighters earn, really?

“Pretty much 40 percent right off the top is gone,” one ranked UFC contender said.

Although only one fighter’s experience, those words wound up being a persistent theme throughout the course of The Athletic’s anonymous MMA fighter survey. Of the 170 athletes who participated in the project — which documented individual fight purses ranging from as low as $2,000 to as high as the multi-millions — The Athletic found that MMA fighters forfeited an average of 32 percent of their highest single-bout purses before those earnings ever reached their bank accounts.

In other words, even for the most lucrative bout of their career, surveyed athletes lost on average nearly a third of their biggest payday before the check cleared.

So how can that be? Many factors are at work.

To start, the built-in expenses that come with being a professional MMA fighter can be considerable. The majority of surveyed pros paid out post-fight fees to their management teams and their coaches or gyms, two bites of the pie that ranged anywhere from a 5 percent to 20 percent chunk each of a fighter’s purse. Some situations, of course, bucked the trend — many fighters in lesser-known promotions didn’t pay a management fee, for example, and a small handful of gyms and coaches didn’t claim a percentage of a fighter’s purse. But just the same, in some of the worst cases, those two base fees alone combined to slice off a 40-percent chunk of a fighter’s earnings before he or she even left the cage.

And that’s just the beginning.

Considering MMA fighters compete in a demanding sport that prioritizes weight-cutting, nutrition fees also naturally came into play for many surveyed athletes, as did travel expenses for coaches and cornermen, which even in the highest levels of the game were not fully covered.

“Most people have three coaches. The UFC will cover one fighter and one coach, but you still have two other coaches that you have to fly out as well as pay,” one UFC fighter said.

“This sport is fucking expensive. It’s expensive. The money that you’re getting from the sport is not enough to cover all the basics. Just think about it.”

That core block of four expenses — management, coaches, nutrition and travel — were generally standard across the board for the majority of athletes competing at the top levels of the sport, regardless of promotion. But none of the expenses on that list was the primary offender in regards to the steepest financial hill professional MMA fighters must climb: taxes.

Indeed, because of the nature of their work, MMA fighters are often hit by the taxman from all fronts and forced to pay taxes not only in their home state and country, but also in the state or country where they fight. So for foreign fighters competing in the U.S., American fighters competing abroad, or even U.S.-based fighters living in a particularly tax-heavy state, the end result of what appears to be a lucrative payday may in fact be a sobering divergence from expectations.

“Bro, that was the worst,” said one U.S.-based UFC fighter who earned a $65,000 purse fighting abroad. “(Country redacted to protect the fighter’s identity) taxed me $17,000 off the top. Then the U.S. taxed me on top of that. I only walked away with about $20,000 after everything.”

“My last win, I got ($20,000 to show) and ($20,000 as a win bonus), I got ($5,000) from Reebok, so that’d be $45,000 total,” one foreign UFC fighter said. “But before I saw it, 37 percent went (to taxes). And that’s before I paid the 20 (percent) to my coaches and my gym. So I lost like 57 percent before I even got it. And then when it changed over to (currency redacted), I was on like 40 percent of my pay.”

“I could talk to you for hours about this,” a UFC veteran who earned a disclosed $70,000 purse said. “With taxes, managers and coaches — after all those fees —  I got 49 percent of that. That came to me. So you cut that ($70,000) in half, essentially. I mean, you look at it — 31 percent will go to the IRS for the most part, then 10 percent will go to your manager, 10 percent will go to your coaches or some kind of split, so 51 percent out the door immediately.”

“Coaches, 5 percent each, so I’m down to 90 percent,” one UFC title contender said. “Then 10 percent to the management, so I’m down to 80 (percent). And then almost half of that 80 percent goes to (U.S. state redacted) and federal. So yeah, out of that $160,000, I’m probably seeing about, what, maybe $80,000? Which is mind-blowing. It’s fucking rough, man.”

The disparity between U.S.-based fighters and foreign fighters was one of the starkest trends when looking at the overall data for the 170 athletes who participated in our survey.

Due to the many factors mentioned above, U.S.-based fighters forfeited an average of nearly 30 percent of their fight purses before their checks hit their bank accounts.

But that same number for foreign fighters, who are often forced to fight outside of their home country if signed to organizations such as the UFC and Bellator?

The figure rose to a staggering average of nearly 40 percent.

In other words, foreign MMA fighters faced not only much stiffer losses to their paycheck, but ultimately nearly half of their biggest payday on average was wiped out due to expenses. And in some cases, that reality was dire.

PERCENTAGE OF FIGHT PURSE THAT FIGHTERS KEEP

Non-U.S. fighters

61%

U.S. fighters

72%

“I lost 85 percent of (my biggest fight purse),” one foreign UFC fighter said. “I ended up with fucking change in my pocket. I lost 85 percent. That’s U.S. tax plus state tax plus coaches plus nutrition plus (country redacted) tax plus management, and then there was the flight — paying for the flight (for cornermen) — as well. So yeah, I lost over 80 percent of it. … I’ve had to make some pretty significant changes after that fight because that was a pretty big blow, to be honest.”

Some have been lucky to clear any earnings at all.

“After taxes, after medicals, after paying management and coaches and everything, I’m lucky if I bring 10 percent of my fight money home,” one former UFC title challenger said. “I would say that I spent the first few years paying to fight and not making any money at all. I got paid so little that the cost of traveling to fights, the cost of medicals and licensing — I was usually paying more money to fight than I was coming out with. And after taxes, because we’re independent contractors, we automatically have to allocate 50 percent of our funds toward paying taxes. That other 50 percent: 10 to 30 percent go to management and paying out coaches, paying for medicals, paying for licensing, paying for gear, paying for supplements, travel.

“Most of my fights I don’t walk out with very much.”

There is another unseen nuance to the way the wages of MMA athletes are taxed — one that’s often a sobering realization for prizefighters.

“Let me tell you what’s really crazy,” one ranked UFC contender said. “So let’s say you make $40,000 (to show) and you win your fight, so you get $80,000. Your coaches or your team, whatever you have to pay for your coaches, is off of $80,000. What you’ve got to pay your manager? It’s off of $80,000. What they tax you in that state? It’s off of $80,000. Just so you know, it’s never like, oh, your manager knows you paid the taxes for California, so he’s only charging you off of $60,000. No, if your check is $80,000, everyone is charging you off of $80,000. Even though that’s totally way more than you even began with. People don’t think that, but it’s the reality.

“So if I’m paying my coaches 10 percent and I pay a manager 20 percent, that’s 30 percent off the top, but all off of $80,000. That’s huge. Especially like, when I’ve got the bonuses in (redacted foreign countries), it didn’t even hit my account. When I got my bonus in (redacted foreign country), I think the bonus check hit my account at like $40,000, but I got taxed in (redacted foreign country) for $50,000, and then I got taxed in the States for $50,000 — even though it never even hit my account at $50,000. You get double hit.”

Naturally, the fight game’s biggest earners have a broader built-in cushion than many of their lower-ranked counterparts. But they are not impervious to the system.

More than 30 percent of the surveyed fighters had earned at least one fight purse of six figures or more. Of those high-earners, 56 percent gave up a 30-percent chunk or more of their winnings to expenses. More alarming, though, was that nearly 20 percent of that high-earning group forfeited half or more of their winnings to expenses — a remarkable figure.

That number stands in sharp contrast to this: Of those same high-earners, just 2 percent of fighters wound up keeping a 90-percent chunk or more of their biggest paychecks.

The heaviest loss among them?

A whopping $620,000 forfeiture sustained by a former champion of a major promotion.

That fighter took home just $380,000 from what was disclosed as a $1 million payday.

Of course, there were encouraging examples, as well.

One long-reigning champion in a major organization kept more than 93 percent of his biggest fight purse — which totaled deep into the six-figure mark — because of a variety of handshake agreements he had with his management team and coaches, which have been kept confidential to avoid identifying the fighter.

There were also numerous seven-figure paydays found in the UFC and outside of the UFC, which is a welcome sign of opportunity across the sport’s landscape.

But even for the fight game’s lesser earners, because of the splintered nature of MMA, there were several ways in which athletes found to push the sport’s math further in their favor.

“I don’t pay a manager, so I save on that end,” said one former champion of a major promotion. “I have a manager, but he doesn’t get a percentage of what he doesn’t negotiate — and since all my contracts are already negotiated, he can’t get a portion of that.”

“My boyfriend coaches me,” said one up-and-coming fighter in a major promotion, “so I get to just put it all in savings. I’m lucky because he’s experienced in MMA and grappling, so I can use him. I only had one cornerman for (my most lucrative) fight, and it was him, so I didn’t have to fly anyone out for that specific fight. So it all went to savings, luckily.”

One U.S.-based UFC fighter memorably answered with a laugh when asked about a fight on the foreign regional scene: “I damn near kept it all,” the competitor said.

“It was straight (redacted country) cash, homie. So it was all cash money, and I had bought my manager out, so I didn’t pay no manager or no taxes, no nothing. That was my whole thing about coming over from the (redacted country’s) fight promotion (to the UFC) — I’m like, dude, I’m losing like 30 percent right off the bat because now I’m going to need a manager. I’ll have to pay taxes. So it was like, man, I’ll fuck around out here.”

There are always outliers, too — circumstances that bleed over from the real world and into the fight game at the most inopportune moments.

The Athletic discovered one such case of a veteran fighter who lost the entirety of a $110,000 purse in one fell swoop.

Why?

Because of unpaid child support.

“(State redacted) never had a professional fighter have children and child support, so they weren’t really sure how to set the fucking pay limit,” the fighter said. “So I ended up losing all of that.”

So in total, what do these numbers mean?

The question of MMA fighter pay is one that will continue to be obscured by smoke and mirrors, no doubt, for better and worse. But the figures you see and hear? They often aren’t the case. Try to remember that the next time an athletic commission releases a payroll report after a big event. Be mindful of what you’re looking at, how wildly those numbers can diverge from the truth.

Because as one UFC fighter appropriately summed up, when it comes to the finances of cage fighting: “You don’t take home what people think you do

 

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25 minutes ago, David said:

The problem is, Dana's one of those types who if you push against him, you'll pay for it. He doesn't respond well to people trying to strong-arm him. As far as going public, he'll just whitewash the fighters concerns with his usual bluster about how fighters who want to make more money have to earn it by winning fights and selling PPV's and so on.

We're seeing it play out with Jones etc. Sadly that's a price some fighters will probably have to pay. Dana isn't going to just give fighters a much bigger share of what UFC bring in off his own back. Sitting back and not doing anything has led to fighters getting shafted out of a cut of this big telly deal.

Going back to the previous post, UFC don't have to though because it's a monopoly. Realistically, fighters are buggered and that will only change when UFC are almost forced to give up a larger chunk of their revenue.

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Only way to really force the UFC to capitulate is if all the fighters, particularly the big-name ones, unionise and declare as a unit they will not fight. Unfortunately for them, there are enough yellow-dog Republicans in their numbers that that won't happen. They're their own worst enemies in this regard. Exactly like wrestling.

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1 hour ago, Carbomb said:

Only way to really force the UFC to capitulate is if all the fighters, particularly the big-name ones, unionise and declare as a unit they will not fight. Unfortunately for them, there are enough yellow-dog Republicans in their numbers that that won't happen. They're their own worst enemies in this regard. Exactly like wrestling.

Why would the big-name fighters cause problems? As I said, guys like Masvidal are earning $2 million when they play the game correctly. McG is taking home millions, and Jon Jones is earning $2 million+ for most of his fights too.

One thing is for sure. Outside the UFC, none of them except maybe McG are making even close to that in MMA. The top fighters are earning good money in the UFC. It's the poor schmucks earning $20,000 at the arse-end of the card that have grounds for complaint.

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From ESPN:

Quote

The UFC is targeting Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 2 for the featherweight title on July 11, sources told ESPN. The fight, however, isn't signed yet. 

Volkanovski defeated Holloway to win the title in December. Following the win, the Australian underwent surgery on his left hand. The win extended his winning streak to 18 in a row, and the loss snapped Holloway's 13-fight featherweight winning streak. Per sources, the promotion has considered featuring multiple title fights on the card. The others in consideration are Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title and a welterweight title defense by champion Kamaru Usman.

The original plan was for Usman to defend the belt against Jorge Masvidal. However, UFC and Masvidal are currently far apart on a deal for the fight, sources say, so the front-runner to replace Masvidal is Gilbert Burns, who defeated Tyron Woodley two weeks ago. On Monday, Burns tweeted that he is "back in camp."

All three fights aren't signed for the UFC 251 card just yet, sources say, but those are the booking plans at the moment. The UFC would like to finalize the top of the card as soon as possible because it is almost a month away. The current plan is for the event to take place on Fight Island, though the UFC has yet to confirm the location with the competitors.

 

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Masvidal needs to be careful he doesn't end up pricing himself out of relevance. We saw Nate do that, and he missed out a decent chunk of the time when he could have been earning good money.

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I hope that July 11th stuff comes true.

Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway 2

Jose Aldo vs Petr Yan

Kamaru Usman vs TBA (latest rumour seems to be Leon Edwards) 

Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas 2

Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka

Fuck. Me. Isn’t this supposed to be on Fight Island as well? Meant to be Abu Dhabi isn’t it? So we should get those shows at a decent hour as well.  

Edited by wandshogun09

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ohhh hadn't even thought about it potntially airing at a decent hour😃

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Yeah, once they start running regularly on Fight Island we should get a little stretch of shoes on at a nice time for us. Only thing is, I can see BT charging PPV for this July 11th one. A card that good and on at a reasonable time? Yeah, they’ll be after 20 notes. 

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