Not long ago, UFC lightweight Paul Felder launched a GoFundMe camaign to help cover the costs of flying his coaches to Brazil, where he’ll fight Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo later this month. This development stirred up debates about fighter pay, and raised many questions as to what expenses the UFC actually covers for its fighters.
Joe Lauzon to the rescue!
On Sunday, the fan-favorite fighter, who also competes in the lightweight division, took to his website to address some of the fan questions that sprung from Felder’s financial pickle.
First, Lauzon addressed flights–specifically, how many the UFC will pay for, and which ones come out of the fighter’s wallet.
“UFC Pays for two flights,” he explained. “Fighter + 1 Corner in most cases. We always have the UFC book the two most expensive flights. I fly out with my guys on Tuesday for a Saturday fight, but one of my coaches usually comes out Friday which is usually a more expensive flight… so the UFC will do that flight… and then another expensive flight. Sometimes its a coach, sometimes its my wife. We are allowed 3 corners… plus fighter… so 4 flights is usually the minimum we go with. So if the UFC pays for two the fighter pays for the other 2 (or more).”
Next on Lauzon’s docket was the issue of accommodation for fighters and their teams.
“They UFC pays for one hotel room. You can put all 4 guys in that one room or get another room, an AirBnB, or whatever you want. If you don’t use the hotel, they will reimburse you for the room you didn’t use. We did this for UFC 200. I got an AirBnB for like $1200 for the week, but the UFC kicked me back like $600 for the room we didn’t use… so we got a full awesome house and it only cost me like $600 for the week. I don’t remember exact numbers, but these are close.”
The UFC lightweight also explained that the UFC does provide its traveling fighters with a food allowance.
“The UFC goes give per diem for food. I think its like $600 for the week. I think its considered $50/day for 6 days, for 2 people.”
Given the many expenses a fighter can incur when fighting internationally, many fans also wondered why fighters travel at all. Lauzon offered up his thoughts on this issue as well.
“Couldn’t [Felder] just say no about fighting in Brazil? The Fighter always has a say on where they fight. If I don’t want to fight internationally, I don’t have to. But if you are picky, you might be waiting longer than if you are more flexible. I wasn’t happy about flying to Canada and getting killed on taxes and everything else, but they asked me and I agreed to help out.”
Some fans also questioned the UFC’s reluctance to pay for more flights and accommodations. Lauzon explained that this reluctance comes down to a desire to keep things simple.
“The reason they stick to the 1 Fighter and 1 Coach is because it gets crazy. When we negotiated one of my contracts I tried HARD to get extra flights or hotel rooms, and they said they stick to the 1+1 because otherwise guys would be negotiating crazy numbers. Guys would be asking for 8 flights and hotel rooms and it gets tough to plan for them from a show by show perspective. It’s much easier to know their costs are X dollars per fighter, plus show/win money when figuring shows.”
Finally Lauzon offered up his thoughts on Felder’s GoFundMe campaign. While he admitted he didn’t really agree with the campaign, he also added that fighters should do whatever they feel is necessary to make things easier on themselves.
“[Reebok] sponsor money is considered to pay for expenses… and [Felder] is in the 5k tier (I believe), so that should definitely cover two flights for his cornermen. I think the most I ever paid was like $1500 per flight and that was for a fight in Japan (that may or may not have happened).
“This is odd to me that he is doing a GoFundMe,” Lauzon added. “If my landscapers did a GoFundMe to cover their gas fees, I wouldn’t be donating because it’s a cost of doing business. I think his flights are a cost of doing business just like paying coaches, paying for equipment, paying for food, etc. That’s why my landscapers get paid, to cover their expenses… and that’s why we fight, to cover our expenses.”
“That being said, he is more than welcome to run a GoFundMe for anything he wants,” Lauzon concluded. “Anyone can do whatever they want… doesn’t mean people will donate. He is being upfront about what the money will be used for, so if people want to donate and help him out that is awesome.”
At the time of this writing, Felder’s GoFundMe page has raised $2900 of it’s $7500 goal, though the page is no longer accepting donations.
Do you think the UFC should cover more expenses for its fighters? Sound off, PENN nation!