To put it mildly, fighter pay for many in the MMA world is less than ideal. And there are several reasons as to why that may be.
Even some of the very best fighters in the sport are struggling to stay afloat in their daily lives. Take No. 2 ranked strawweight contender Jessica Andrade for a prime example.
Andrade has been nearly unstoppable during her UFC run and looks to continue her dominance next Saturday at UFC 228 when she takes on Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
The Brazilian recently took the time to speak with media (via MMAFighting) about her current financial situation.
”I’m going to my 14th fight in the UFC and it’s really difficult to get sponsors, to get people who want to help you financially. Sometimes we have to sell UFC clothes, backpack, gloves, stuff like that, to make some extra money to finish a camp. It’s quite difficult, but we go on.
I think it would be great if we had a bigger incentive from the government and the city in sports. Not only in fighting, but it lacks a lot for all sports. It would be great if we had this support from people, from businessman, to say ‘we will help.’ Even if it’s only with 500 reais ($120) because 500 reais makes a huge difference by the end of the month *laughs*.
I have nothing to complain with the UFC because I get paid really well in the UFC. I think you’re paid according to your work, and I think that’s really cool. That’s why I want to be fighting all the time, to show that I’m the best, that I’m evolving, because the more you show, the more you get paid.”
Despite having no complaints, Andrade believes that there are definitely some improvements to be made and is hopeful that things will get better.
And how could they get better? Reverting back to old ways may be a solution.
”I’m expecting an improvement, but it’s getting better. One day I will be able to invest in some other thing and won’t have this problem of having to fight only to get paid.
It’s difficult, but we get by the way we can, right? I usually am a strong person and I don’t show anything to others even if I’m going through some difficulties, not even for my master (Gilliard Parana). I get by, Fernanda and I, my mother-in-law. Sometimes we bake a cake and sell, we get by the way we can. It’s sad that we have to sell our training gear, things we get in fights that are a good memory of what we had there, but we’ll get new stuff later *laughs*. I have so many of these white hoodies with my name on that no problem selling one, right? *laughs*.”
The UFC has become an exceedingly profitable company and has gotten very wealthy according to UFC president Dana White who likes to let it be known.
In July 2016, the UFC was sold for $4 billion to WME-IMG. White recently made the claim that the UFC is now worth $7 billion just two years later.
With the Reebok deal still in place, pay seemingly hasn’t been changing all too much for fighters despite the organization’s growth.
”We have to go through difficulties to grow. Even though the UFC is millionaire, trillionaire, we have to live our reality. Unfortunately, the UFC makes all that, we don’t. But I’m happy with my job, happy with my salary. I never imagined I would be making as much as I make. My master usually says in training, ‘Jessica made a million reais ($241,765) last year. I look at him and say ‘you liar, I didn’t make that much, it was a bit less’ *laughs*, but it’s about knowing how to invest. When I learn to invest in something that brings a result, everything will be alright and I won’t go through many difficulties.
When I got in the UFC, we would always get a little extra pay-per-view bonus and everything else. We won’t make that much anymore because of Reebok. But we would always get an extra percentage of the card. So if it was a good card, every athlete would get a small percentage of the pay-per-view, a percentage of the video game. We don’t get that today anymore.
I think that should come back, us getting those extra little bonuses. In my first fights, I got $8,000 outside of my purse and sponsors. When I was short of money, that little bonus came and wow, that really helped *laughs*. That was great, that really helped us. I think we should have that again.”
It’s at least good to see that Andrade is in good spirits about everything even though she has some obvious problems with how things.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 8/30/2018