UFC Fighters Need To Stop Complaining About Pay


A hot topic that never seems to go away in MMA social media is UFC fighter pay. Every once in awhile a current or ex-UFC fighter will succumb to tension and stress and go public with his salary complaints. Nate Quarry is the latest and I hope the last to cry poverty.

[adinserter block=”1″]I have about had it with UFC fighters complaining about their pay. Recognizable names such as Chris Leben, Tim Kennedy, Jon Fitch, and of course Nick Diaz with Quarry being the latest have publicly cried about their financials to the sympathies of many fans and bloggers. Here is one blogger that wishes to bury this topic and move on.

Nate Quarry recently ranted about this after reports came out about the UFC instituting fighter uniforms which would reportedly impact fighter sponsorship deals. Quarry, who had his back surgery paid for by the UFC and was turned into a celebrity on The Ultimate Fighter (a show the UFC almost went broke producing) believes the UFC should have done more.

People have no clue from the outside what it’s like to fight for the UFC,” he wrote. “After spending 10-15 years chasing your dream, only to see that the company it’s been your dream to fight for cares nothing about the fighters and only cares about the bottom line.

Quarry also went on to whine about the salary he received for fighting the world champion. “I fought for the world title for $10,000. Not a penny more. No bonus. No cut of the PPV. The gate alone was 3.5 million dollars. The third highest gate in UFC history at the time. And they must have loved the fight cuz they show the final punch at the start of EVERY UFC PPV. 🙂

Quarry’s buddy Chris Leben was not nearly as eloquent when he recent revealed on Twitter that he is broke. Leben later retracted the comment yet regardless of the retraction, he put it out there. Keep in mind that Leben has had documented problems with substance abuse.

Lorenzo Fertitta, Zuffa CEO recently responded to these salary complaints to Yahoo Sports. “This fight Nate is talking about (UFC 56, Franklin vs. Quarry) was so long ago and clearly the business wasn’t where it is today. It was in its infancy and we were coming out of a period where we suffered millions upon millions in losses. It wasn’t an insignificant amount of money. And I’ll tell you this, Nate is a smart guy. Absolutely he is. He knew when he signed his contract exactly what he’d be paid.

Just for kicks I decided to take a look at the fighter salaries from the UFC’s most recent pay-per-view event, UFC 169. The minimum salary for the night was $8000 while Alistair Overeem topped the list with $407,143 for a fight that wasn’t even a co-main-event. These numbers don’t take into account unreported bonuses and sponsorship deals but you get the gist of it.

I am sorry but I am tired of these fighters complaining. UFC fighter pay is not a secret. It is reported after every show. These guys chose to become fighters and knew very well what the pay scale is. Hey listen, I love radio, did it for ten years, but opted not to make a career of it for one simple reason. The chances of me making a secure, high salary in that business are about the same as someone who wants to try their hand in the UFC or MMA. I could have gone down that road and while I’d certainly be happier at my full-time job, I would have sacrificed a better life for myself and my family. That’s why I do podcasting…as a hobby!

Nate Quarry didn’t have to become a UFC fighter and he certainly didn’t have to accept a world championship fight. Quarry could have done something else with better earnings potential and practiced MMA as a hobby. Quarry was also given a shot at a golden ticket by even getting that fight because a win would have propelled him into a different salary range. Quarry could have also cut pro wrestling-style promos on Franklin and actually promote his fight, which in turn would have made him a star. Quarry lost in the first round and said nothing but complimentary things about the champion. He blew it.

Unless you truly believe you have what it takes to beat the best and if you don’t, go out there and promote your fights like it is show business, you have no right complaining about your pay. There is a reason we see so few superstars and draws in the UFC. Chael Sonnen was in the same situation as Quarry and turned that impossible task into an opportunity that made him a star. Quarry didn’t do that, nor have most of the fighters who complain about pay.

[adinserter block=”2″]So the next time one of these fighters who made a choice to turn a hobby into a career goes on social media to complain about pay to fans who are working just as hard and making much less than they deserve, don’t do it. I don’t want to hear it and most of the fans don’t want to hear it. You don’t want to wear UFC uniforms, quit and do something else with your life. You made your career choice now live with it.

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  1. Compare the UFC salaries with any professional sport, from what I see listed the salaries are ridiculously low. Eight thousand dollars to have your brains punched and kick with the power these guys are capable of dishing out isn’t nearly enough. The long range effects with permanent damage can be measured, brain injuries, back and knee injuries due to practicing, and actual competition. This bull crap about they chose to fight is as old as the hills, owners of professional football and basketball and baseball paid their players in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s so little the players sold kitchen appliances and cars in the off season to make ends meet. When Joe Namath signed with the Jets for 400,000 dollars the sports fans couldn’t believe it. Today the players make millions per year on an average. Namath has two artificial knees, find a professional athlete who doesn’t have a lasting injury of some sort. Walk a mile in these guys shoes or shut up-let you best strongest buddy punch you in the gut, then the jaw ONCE, then remember these guys have it happen thousands of times over their career-and if they go on strike for pay increases, lets see how fast it takes the Corporation Bosses of the UFC to get to the negotiating table-for every super star who does enjoy a high salary the lower end guys get ONE dollar for every FORTY dollars the top draws get and there aren’t enough top draws to keep it going -there is the love of the sport factor for all these guys, but business is business and I am a strong supporter of elite professional athletes.

  2. I agree with the blogger. No one held a gun to their head and forced them to become professional fighters. They all had jobs before making it to the big time ( and yes the UFC is the big time )
    so it was a labor of love for them to get where they are or were with the UFC or Bellator or whatever.
    I’ve trained in MMA and have known some super dedicated fighters that made it a part of their life and they all said the same thing. They work and fight becuase fighting is their passion and they hope to make it some day. They know ahead of time that the chances of making it are slim but they keep doing it.
    It was the same with all these guys that are crying about not having any money now. They worked their asses off to do this professionally. If they have no money now, that isn’t the promotions fault. It’s the fighters fault.

  3. As someone who regularly trains with MMA fighters, let me say the following. IT is a choice. If you choose to sacrifice your health and well being KNOWING that only about 30 fighters in the world make a great living, then it is on you. Another 50 or 60 fighters make a decent living. And the rest cannot pay their bills from fighting alone. Sponsors are low balling all MMA athletes right now, so they aren’t helping the situation.

    Nate Quarry was never a great fighter; he was at best a B level fighter for a short season and thus never warranted more pay. Leben is another B or C level fighter, depending on when you look at his career. He’s broke because he is a drug abuser and a knucklehead overall. There is an impression that ALL fighters should make enough in a short career to retire afterwards. There simply isn’t the money there, or the demand. B and C level fighters are a dime a dozen right now.

  4. What a piece of trash this writer is. “Most fans don’t want to hear it”… speak for yourself idiot, because you are in the minority. MOST fans DO want fighters to get paid more. But hey – you’ve clearly never been in a fight, let alone trained full time to be a professional fighter. So you need to shut your mouth, because you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Plain & simple, these are the facts.

    • Oh and you have fought in the UFC? I must have missed your fight. Hey it’s a real simple answer. Stop paying and stop watching the fights. As long as you fans who care keep patronizing the UFC, nothing will change. I fight AS A HOBBY! As long as fighters continue to fight in the UFC, nothing will change. Make your voices heard to the people that matter, not this piece of trash.


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