Sunday, June 25, 2006

UFC Pay

I was reading a post on a message board basically saying that people shouldn't complain about the UFC pay for fighters, because they should be happy just to do what they love and they have endorsements anyway. I didn't buy this, so I wrote up a response, and include it below:

"When discussion of pay comes up, my feeling is that fighters should be paid *what they are worth*. That does not mean that they should be paid out of some sort of benevolence by MMA promoters, or that fighters on the undercard should be made more "for putting their bodies on the line." I look at it just in terms of economics and fairness. The fighters should be paid commensurate with the business they bring in for the company, just like any business. If you work a job where you only make $30,000 a year, it's likely that your boss could fill your job with someone else that could do the job for the same amount. And it's likely that you couldn't get a comparable job for significantly more money. That's just the labor market working itself out.

But UFC is different, because they have essential a monopoly on major league MMA in this country. As such, they are able to take advantage of fighters by not paying them what they are worth to the business. And this goes on simply because there isn't a viable alternative promotion that can offer the same opportunities and money to the fighters. Thus the model is inefficient, and the promoter is getting an unfair advantage over the fighters. And that's where criticism of the payscale is very valid. This is why we have antitrust law, and why we are interested in protecting workers in certain types of jobs and certain markets.

The major league sports in this country were able to keep athletes from earning what they deserved for a long time, but it couldn't last forever. And Dana and the UFC money train eventually are going to have to face the same challengers, whether they are antitrust challenges or attempts to unionize fighters under UFC contract. It is only then that pressure can be exerted in two directions and the payscale becomes more appropriate given the importance of the fighters (particularly the top line fighters) in lining the Zuffa coffins."

Just a few other thoughts from last night's UFC. First, it's almost impossible to really enjoy these shows, even though the fights were really great, because the pacing is so damn slow. It kind of reminds me of the Super Bowl, where you've got an event I'm really interested in, but it is so filled with fluff and downtime I can never get into it. Second, Grove-Herman was an awesome fight. For once I agreed with the judges on what I thought was a close decision, as I had it 29-28 Grove as well. I couldn't believe Herman withstood the rear naked choke at the end of the fight. Third, all credit to Kenny Florian. That was a really impressive performance over a tough fighter, and it appears he deserves more respect than I have been giving him.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Phil said...

I've been saying this for years, applicable to a variety of sports, but US sports need to be more accepting of a tie/draw. In UFC's case, this means 10-10 (or 9-9) rounds. If reasonable minds can disagree on who won a round, then that's a good indication that each judge should have it even. "A winner at all costs" is prima facie unfair as inevitably sometimes there is no clear-cut winner.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I agree.

8:01 AM  

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