The topic of UFC fighter pay is a hot topic lately among fans and media but up until now it has been mostly ex-UFC fighters speaking out. Now a current UFC fighter is speaking up and according to him his pay is less than a garbage man.
Kennedy recently broke down the pay for his next fight at UFC 162 and let’s just say that he isn’t going to strike it rich in Vegas unless he hits on red. Kennedy told the GrappleTalk podcast that he would be make more money as a garbage man than he’ll make fighting Roger Gracie third from the top on an Anderson Silva headlined pay-per-view.
Kennedy revealed that he was due around $55,000 to show up at UFC 162, with the purse potentially increasing to $70,000 with a win bonus – but that after the expenses of his camp, medicals and fight team, he would only pocket around $20,000, even before taxes. After the interview, Kennedy sent a detailed breakdown of how his fight purse would be divided up: 13% on gym fees, 12% for nutrition, 10% to his manager, 10% to his coach, 8% on his camp lodging, 3% for fight medicals and 3% on equipment. In total, that’s 59% of his fight purse before tax is deducted.
Keep in mind that we are talking about UFC 162. This is a show in Vegas, on fan fest weekend, and on pay per view in which Kennedy is slotted right dab in the middle of the pay per view broadcast. This is an entire event weekend that is expected generate more than $150 million for Las Vegas while Kennedy says he is taking home $20,000 before taxes. That’s just not right.
“I’m one of the top three percent of guys in the whole entire sport and it would be slim pickings to survive off what I make in fighting.” “It’s a good thing I have another job because the UFC doesn’t pay very well.” “Anyone who accepts that as a reality of the sport is sad and pathetic. I hope this isn’t the reality of the sport. If it is, I should probably go do something else, like empty trash cans. I’d make more money than I do now.”
BloodyElbow.com broke down Kennedy’s Zuffa fights since 2011 and estimated that his annual salary before taxes since that time would be $47, 500 a year. This isn’t exactly a preliminary guy we are talking about here.
Guess what? Kennedy posted an apology not too long after his original rant about salary. I guess it’s fair to say that his bosses weren’t very happy at all with Kennedy.
“I recently made comments regarding fighter pay. The intent of these statements was to highlight that professional fighters incur significant expense associated with their preparations to fight and that fighter compensation is still not on par with other major sports. While I am fortunate to have various revenue streams associated with my business interests, most fighters do not have that luxury. When you spend training camps with great guys with amazing talents and you see them barely making ends meet, while simultaneously seeing athletes in other sports with far less character and a far smaller work ethic making exponentially more, you can get frustrated.
Unfortunately, I made statements that alluded to how the UFC in particular pays its athletes. This was particularly offensive as Zuffa has taken better care of me than any other organization, even giving me a bonus for being amusing on Twitter. My choice of words was poor, not properly informed, and did not match my intent. Additionally, my comments were taken out of context. I can tell you that I have been fighting longer than most people and I remember all too well the days when there was no regulation or standard for an MMA promotion. I fought many times in Mexico where the rules were negligible, there were no physicals, and being paid was a luxury we didn’t expect. Our sport was shunned and was considered “human cockfighting”. Today, we are on Fox. We have doctors and insurance. We make more money than the average American. And we get these things by playing a sport we love. The only reason this is possible is because of Zuffa. They have legitimized the sport and taken better care of the athletes than any other organization, and the trend is only improving, with athletes making three times what they made on average five years ago.
The only thing hurtful about his comments was the realization that the UFC has a serious problem with fighter pay. Sure you can argue that Kennedy shouldn’t have signed the contract and you’re right. At the same time what are these guys supposed to do? They have a talent, a skill, and when you are as good as Kennedy, you deserve better.