Fighter pay is a big topic this week thanks to ESPN running an ‘Outside The Lines’ special on the subject of the UFC and its remuneration of the men who compete in its various divisions.
Fans have sided for or against the UFC but as always the issue is clouded by the fact that there are no hard, accurate figures on how much exactly each fighter makes. That is because the UFC operates an off-the-books bonus system, as well as fighters receiving sponsorship and other monies that stem from their fights.
Sean McCorkle recently competed in the UFC heavyweight division, going 1-2 before exiting back to the regional leagues (where he has since gone 3-0). A regular poster on The Underground forum, he chimed in to reveal what he had been paid for his three UFC ventures, and how the figures differed from the ‘official’ numbers released by athletic commissions.
Extracts from the post include:
“During my 3 fight stint with the UFC the paid me exactly 150% what they were contractually obligated to pay me. That is without a KO/Sub/Fight of the night bonus of any kind. That is even though I lost 2 of my 3 fights.
“I got a discretionary bonus after all 3 of my fights, even an amount equal to my what would have been my win bonus after my embarrassing performance against Stephan Struve. I was told that was given to me based strictly on the effort I put in to promoting the fight, and not because of how I performed.
“Sponsorship wise during those 3 fights I made an average each fight of about 75% of what I was contracted to be paid by the UFC. So if my purse for fighting was $10,000 I made approximately $7,500 in sponsors on average.
“Take an average fighter’s reported pay for a televised fight, and double it, and you’ll have a rough number of the amount he made on that fight. So if a guy is reported at $12,000 to show, and $12,000 to win, chances are he’ll make around $50,000 by the time it’s all said and done for that fight.
“As far as the main event fighters and big stars like Brock, GSP, Anderson Silva, who share in the PPV revenue, the reported numbers are not even in the ballpark. GSP might be reported to make $250,000 when he in fact made $3-$4 million.
“So I made more in each of 2 of my 3 UFC fights than I did in all of my 12 non UFC fights combined. I made barely less against Christian Morecraft than I did in the other 12 combined.”
The UFC has heavily criticised ESPN for the tone of its Outside The Lines piece, which aired in the US on Sunday via the ESPN 2 channel. UFC president Dana White has called ESPN “dirty” and accused them of malice towards the promotion, while company CEO Lorenzo Fertitta released an unedited video of himself being interviewed by ESPN, to contrast with the edited version aired on ESPN 2.