Coming off a submission loss to Gleison tibau at UFC on FX 8, (former) UFC lightweight John Cholish has retired from the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, citing unfair payment as the main reason. According to Cholish, the salary lower level fighters make is often not enough to even break even with the cost of expenses.
John Cholish told the MMA Hour on Monday that he was retiring from the sport due to unfair pay to lower level fighters.
“I can say from how I’ve been treated directly and on my understanding of what the UFC takes in on an annual basis that they could compensate the lower-level fighters…and even the upper-level fighters a little bit better”
Cholish said he made $8,000 for his fight Saturday night. However, Cholish said he won’t end up making much after factoring in his expenses. Cholish estimated that the costs of his camp and for his team to travel to Brazil for UFC on FX 8 will end up being between $5,000 and $10,000. These expenses include medical tests, visas, licensing fees and payment for coaching and management.
“I think if you’re a fighter on the lower level you should at least be getting enough income win or lose in your fight so that…you can go into that fight fully focused on the fight,” Cholish said. “I don’t understand how [lower-level fighters] can live off the income at this level.”
Fighter pay has been a longstanding issue in the sport of Mixed Martial arts, and in the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization. Cholish suggests that most fighters are too worried about the consequences that come with complaining or speaking out regarding the matter.
“I just think a lot of fighters feel the same exact way I do but are just in a situation or a position where for lack of a better word they’re just scared to speak out because they’re worried about the repercussions.”
In the end, Cholish decided the risk is not worth the reward, and so he has officially retired from the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
“Going into these fights, I knew I was going to lose money,” Cholish said. “If I’m losing money, is it really something I want to keep doing, especially if I’m putting myself at risk?”
What’s your take on the situation? Is it time for the UFC to reconsider their payment structure for lower-level fighters?