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Media notebook: Heat-up for tonight’s WEC event in Florida

By Zach Arnold | November 5, 2008

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CBS Sports (Denny Burkholder): WEC 36 stacked with interesting match-ups

The Baltimore Sun: Q & A with Randy Couture

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you could change anything about MMA, what would it be?

Randy Couture: I guess if there’s anything I could change, it would be that the athletes got things like health insurance and retirement plans and more equal compensation compared to other professional athletes and sports in our country. I definitely think its going to take time, any kind of change, especially like that, you’re talking about a lot of people and money. It’s going to take time.

Mainichi Daily News: Gold medalist judoka Satoshi Ishii to tackle pro-world of MMA

“To become the strongest of the world’s six billion people has been my dream since I was little. I think mixed martial arts is the toughest combat sports.”

AFP: Ishii trades gold judo medal for ticket to MMA

Only three months after saving Japan’s pride at the Beijing Olympics, the 21-year-old disappointed many in the homeland of tradition-bound judo by joining what is still widely seen as a make-believe sport designed largely for television.

Broward Palm Beach: Kimbo Slice’s a sissy – the fight that wasn’t threatens to ruin a sport that isn’t

Slice’s entire presence in the sport has only damaged MMA’s reputation. He’s most famous, after all, for YouTube videos of truly brutal backyard fights that employ none of the skills possessed by veteran MMA pros.

The Slice-Petruzelli fight represents a critical moment in the history of the sport. Had it been a success, widespread popularity might have followed. But as it stands now, MMA remains on the fringes, though with a hardcore audience intact.

Vanity Fair: Anatomy of a fight, part two (a very well-written article by Peter Nelson on De La Hoya/Pacquiao

Topics: Boxing, DREAM, Japan, Media, MMA, Pro Elite, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 21 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

21 Responses to “Media notebook: Heat-up for tonight’s WEC event in Florida”

  1. Mr.Roadblock says:

    Where Randy (and a lot of other MMA fighters) is wrong is that MMA athletes are paid comparably (actually better) than athletes in other professions based on the services they provide.

    Randy gets paid one million plus dollars per fight between purse, bonuses and PPV. That is for 1 event which draws between 12,000 – 20,000 (he has drawn that number once) fans. That is a small amount of fans for a sporting event. If he were in the NFL where you compete 16 times per year he’d be getting 16million per year and if he were a baseball player where you play 162 games per year he’d be making 5 times what Arod is making.

    I know that you guys are going to start slapping the keys and saying they work out for 8 weeks this and it’s a hard sport that. I agree it is. Obviously the money you get in the fight has to last you to the next, pay for your training partners, set you up for retirement in a business with no pension, etc. But looking at this as a business which is what it is, the guys are compensated fairly. Proof of that is that none of the UFC’s competitors that try to overpay the mid-level talent can stay in business.

    At the end of the day Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, etc don’t draw much business. There isn’t much commercial interest in the sport (yet). Sure UFC could open up the purse strings a bit and give the guys some more money. I don’t think anyone should be fighting on a PPV for $3,000. I’d like to see everyone who makes TV get $50k minimum in UFC. I think UFC could afford that.

    At the same time, nobody told these guys getting into MMA is a smart business move. Nobody owes these guys anything. In fact they’re all lucky to be getting anything from MMA. How quickly these guys forget that 8 years ago virtually everyone was fighting for gas money, maybe a hotel room and if you’re lucky a couple hundred bucks.

    As far as healthcare goes, UFC should have a policy covering everyone under contract. Besides being what in my opinion is the right thing to do, it makes business sense keeping the guys as healthy as possible. I think at some point you’ll see a pension plan if the sport keeps going. Where they count every 3 fights as equaling one year of service or something of that nature.

  2. Bob L says:

    Sports Salaries (from):

    http://www.sportsmanagementworldwide.com/salaries.asp

    Sport: Low: High:

    National Football League (NFL) $225,000 $20,000,000
    Arena Football League (AFL)
    $28,000 $240,000
    Canadian Football League (CFL)
    $75,000 $275,000
    National Basketball Assoc. (NBA) $385,000 $28,000,000
    European Basketball
    $6,000 $1,000,000
    Major League Baseball (MLB) $300,000 $22,000,000 National Hockey League (NHL) $350,000 $10,000,000
    Minor League Hockey
    $10,000 $200,000
    Major League Soccer (MLS)
    $15,000 $500,000
    European Soccer
    $45,000 $7,800,000

    Not sure about Carano’s salary but:

    WNBA rookies earned $30,000 per year. The maximum salary for a WNBA player in 2007 was $100,000.

    from http://www.transworldnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?id=42727&cat=6

  3. Grape Knee High says:

    For an old dude, Randy is still remarkably naive about how businesses are run and salaries are paid.

    People are generally paid for the perceived economic value they bring to a company, not by how much “skill” they have or what “equal compensation” should be.

    Then again, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Most of the geniuses who watch MMA also think all fighters should be paid millions of dollars.

  4. The Gaijin says:

    Mr. RB,

    For one thing while he may only fight in front of 12,000 fans I’d be interested in seeing what the ticket price comparisons are between the two. I’m not sure what the gate is for a home game, but UFC cards are breaking the $1M gate with regularity and they’ve come close to $3m on several occasions I believe. You can go to a Buffalo Bills game and the best seats in the place are $90 while Octagon-side seats are several thousand.

    And I can’t stand this argument of “nobody owes them anything”, “they’re lucky to be getting paid”. Really? The company that’s making the millions of dollars doesn’t owe the fighters anything? If it wasn’t for the fighters they’d make $0. I think they owe them a little more than that. Why don’t we just say car companies or banks owe their employees nothing and they’d be lucky to have jobs? Way back when you’d be lucky to make $5/day and not die on the job – it’s the same basic argument and I don’t see anyone making that one.

  5. mattio says:

    “It’s sort of an adult version of teenagers beating up a homeless guy,” Cote wrote in a May 29 column in which he rued the fact that CBS had agreed to air some matches. “It appeals to our most vile fascination with violence, from the same mind-set that makes the Grand Theft Auto franchise a video-game phenomenon: The notion of doing wrong vicariously.”

    MMA does not market itself as something wrong. MMA fans don’t watch it to be wanna-be tough guys. This is madness.

    MMA is not anything like teenage hoodlums up to no good. It’s about two skilled fighters trying to see who is the better man. There are gentlemen’s rules in place so that there is a 99 percent chance both combatants will fight again another day.

    I bet this Cote has The Departed in his DVD collection. I’m sick of people (especially members of the media) trying to browbeat MMA fans by painting them as idiots getting off on violence.

    Even if that were the case, why single out MMA? There are violent movies, violent videogames, football features absolutely brutal tackles, boxing has punching to the head, baseball brawls are always replayed on television. Only MMA takes it too far? Yeah, sure.

  6. cyph says:

    Are you really comparing MMA business to car companies and banks? Blue collar jobs pay roughly 30-60k a year. Benefits may be an additional 5k. The athletes who are good are making routinely 15-25k a fight, 4 times a year. Add in endorsements and they are clearing 150k at least.

    As for the up and comers, sure they aren’t making much. But in what profession are you entitled to that kind of money? Fighting is a contract profession. Contractors are self-employed. If you’re going to compare, then do apples to apples. The major leaguers get their health care through their union.

    The day MMA becomes an indispensable sport that has universal appeal will be the day that a union is formed. As of right now, unions are ineffective because a strike or any strike would send the sport back 10 years.

  7. klown says:

    I appreciate the sentiment, Randy, but it would have been nice to back that up with action, when you had the chance, by throwing your reputable name and your credibility behind an effort to unionize fighters.

  8. IceMuncher says:

    Thanks for the list Bob L. I hadn’t seen an actual list of salaries for all the sports before.

    The UFC is surprisingly competitive in the non-mainstream sports bracket. Their spread is a little wider though, UFC would look something like $12,000 – $4,000,000 with a median salary probably around $80k ($20k – $30k per fight).

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    There is no way to compare MMA Fighter pay with the pay of athletes in sports leagues such as MLB, NFL, and NBA.

    Those leagues are very well established in American culture. Because of this, they have the benefits of extremely high paying sponsors and TV contracts. They also have big merchandising deals. They have the support of their cities with financial help to build stadiums.

    And most importantly, these athletes are competing 6 to 9 months a year. And during this time, they are with the team the entire time. Unlike fighters who go back to their camps, which aren’t run by an actual organization.

    MMA fighters at the highest level typically only fight 2 to 4 times a year. Why would any company pay high priced health insurance for an athlete who only shows up to work a few times a year. I completely understand they work year round to improve their talents, but the way the sport is structured, they aren’t actually working with the company during many month stretches.

    Not to mention that Mr. Randy Couture better be careful what he wishes for. Higher salaries in a fighting sport typically mean decreased strength of cards and undercard fighters being financially squeezed more. That is what boxing did, and it ruined the sport.

    Not to say that fighters couldn’t get paid somewhat more, but there needs to be a careful balance…. One that Mr. Couture obviously is not qualified to make.

  10. The Gaijin says:

    All I’m saying is that, this “the UFC owes the fighters nothing”, “fighters are lucky they are even getting paid” is a horrible argument.

    I’m not trying to make a DIRECT analogy. But last I checked every company needs employees and every successful company needs good employees. Without the fighters there would be no fights and without talented fighters there would be little fan interest.

    Employees need employers and employers need employees, but as in every “industry” one needs to realize that there is a strong imbalance of power between employer and employees.

  11. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Which is why you have unions. The owners of labor have to balance their power against the owners of capital, and the only way to do that is collective action. Meanwhile, the owners of capital will use bonus structures to convince workers that if they “outperform” their peers then they will be treated as if they were owners of the capital by sharing profits, thereby feeding into their greed drive to prevent any situation from emerging that would improve the general lot, since they would be reducing their potential share. Game theory is pretty clear on the proper solution, but sociology breaks things badly.

    Especially now that we seem to be ever more obviously moving to one major promotion and a bunch of semi-pro feeder leagues.

  12. Pontus says:

    Those numbers about european soccer are wrong. I know plenty of soccer players who make much more then that.

  13. 45 Huddle says:

    As a fan, do we REALLY want fighters making $5 Million a fight? It’s a serious question that needs to be answered and has an impact on the entire sport.

    Look at The Ultimate 2008…. Evans/Griffin, Jackson/Silva, & Nogueira/Mir.

    That card would never be possible in boxing. Let’s say the UFC has the potential to pay out $5 Million for a fight card. Honestly, I was hate it if two of the fighters got $4.75 Million and the remaining 18 fought for the scraps. I’d rather see the top fighters making $500,000 to $1 Million a fight, and have a much more enjoyable PPV.

    A fight card if Randy Couture & Tito Ortiz got their way:

    Forrest Griffin ($2.5mil) vs. Rashad Evans ($2.25mil). 9 Below Average Fights ($13,888 Per Fighter).

    A fight card if done properly:

    1. Forrest Griffin ($1 Mil) vs. Rashad Evans ($500,000)

    2. Antonio Nogueira ($1 Mil) vs. Frank Mir ($500,000)

    3. Quinton Jackson ($500,000) vs. Wanderlei Silva ($500,000)

    That stil gives another million for the rest of the undercard. As President Obama says… Let’s spread the wealth!!

    Obviously, this would still institute a pay increase. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near the other major professional sports. That would ruin MMA.

  14. D.Capitated says:

    The list of soccer players making more than $7.8 million in USD is hella long. The low numbers are impossible to compare to US team sports because of the club system in play overseas. Naturally club teams, even successful ones, in countries like Croatia or Lithuania aren’t going to be able to pay as much as a team facing demotion in Premier League.

    I personally have no problem with TUF’s contracts at the moment, nor am I bothered with pay at the bottom of the card. From a business sense, I am bothered by organizations that spend ridiculous amounts of money on undercard fights no one is going to pay to watch (see: Affliction) and by fighters at the top of the card who are actively drawing the eyes making highly fractional amounts compared to any other comparable sport.

  15. D.Capitated says:

    As a fan, do we REALLY want fighters making $5 Million a fight? It’s a serious question that needs to be answered and has an impact on the entire sport.

    Why wouldn’t you? Aside from hating the idea of fighters getting paid their value.
    Look at The Ultimate 2008…. Evans/Griffin, Jackson/Silva, & Nogueira/Mir.
    That card would never be possible in boxing.

    There’s been similar cards before and there is the likelihood that there will be again. The UFC is banking on all those fights together drawing a massive number, which is fine and dandy. Of course, alternately, if they believed all those fights were strong draws on their own, they’d be headlining their own PPVs instead of hoping to get Franklin/Henderson on Spike.

    Boxing runs similar PPVs in terms of being “stacked” with quality fights when the dollars make sense. Cotto/Mosley had Casamayor/Santa Cruz, and Margarito in a blatant mismatch. Not a bad comparison to UFC 92’s top three fights. Barrera/Juarez II and the Castillo/Corrales II PPVs were similarly matched from top to bottom.

  16. Grape Knee High says:

    Jeremy:

    Have you seen what unions have done to decimate the balance sheets of the US car companies recently?

    Unions are not always positive things.

  17. 45 Huddle says:

    They are in sports. Not in the auto or airplane industries.

  18. The Gaijin says:

    Please…”the unions are to blame” is the most giant bullshit cop out going. It was the typically ignorant “US corporate juggernaut” attitude and these geniuses couldn’t formulate a solid business plan to save their lives.

    Making expensive gas guzzling roadhogs, shitty cars and getting decimated by the foreign companies in the “economy car” market but ignoring it until it was too late was a pretty big problem on their part. But let’s make sure we all say “it’s the union’s fault”.

  19. Zach Arnold says:

    I came to read about MMA fights and a political fight broke out.

  20. Grape Knee High says:

    Gaijin, read my last sentence again. Unions can be good, but the idea that they are always positive things is a fallacy.

    GM and Ford have certainly made a ton of business mistakes, but many of them are exacerbated by being under the thumb of unions. GM and Ford’s balance sheets are brutalized by pension and benefits liabilities to their union workers.

    The reason why Toyota and Honda can make better cars for the same money in the US alongside the US car companies is exactly because they don’t have the yoke of union labor around them as much as GM or Ford.

  21. The Gaijin says:

    Sorry, I should have stated that my comment wasn’t to be directed completely at you. Just at the anti union arguments and cat calls that are popping up in light of the current state of the markets.

    You’re completely right in that unions are far from always being a positive. They’re refusal to make some concessions until it was far too late is something they should be chided for, but clearly the US car companies lack the innovation, efficiency etc. to remain competitive. The unions do have a place in that, but they’re far from the major problem.

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