The issue of fighter compensation has been a hot one this month, with a variety of figures weighing in on the subject. In a compelling interview with BloodyElbow's John S. Nash, retired former UFC title challenger Nate Quarry offers an insightful and balanced perspective from the fighter's side.
John S. Nash: So the source of their problems is the fact that the UFC is so big? That it holds such a dominant position over the market?
Nat Quarry: It's a catch-22, because without the UFC where would I be? Where would the sport be? I consider myself ridiculous lucky because of all the things Dana White, the Fertittas, and the UFC have done for me - and all the athletes - is amazing. But on the flip side, what all the athletes have done for Dana White and the Fertittas is amazing.
What most people don't know is, before my back surgery, I went to Dana White and said, "I can't even train anymore. My back hurts so bad and I can't afford surgery. I don't know what to do. "And he said, "We'll take care of it. Go get it done." So Dana White is 100% responsible for saving my career. Of course, if I got paid more for my title fight I could have taken care of it myself. (laughs) Maybe.
I will always be indebted to Dana White for helping me there. And I know he's done that over and over again for other guys. He's one of those guys who's generous to a fault with helping fighters - helping people in general. You hear that over and over again. But he's also a cutthroat business man.
JSN: Are there other things you think the typical fan misses or doesn't understand, especially with regards to the how the fight business works for most fighters?
NQ: What fans on the message boards don't understand is the work involved. They see someone get paid $50,000 and they say, "Look at that prima donna asking for more. I'd love to fight for that." Sure you would, but would you train for 10 years, twice a day, for free? Would you let yourself get punched in the face everyday for it? Because that's what you have to do before you ever get paid.
When I was on the Ultimate Fighter, someone came up to Team Quest to do an interview with me, and they told him I was in the back. And he goes back there and I'm sweeping floors. And he asks me what am I doing, and I tell him, they're paying $8 an hour to sweep the floors. I needed the money. I was living on next to nothing. I couldn't work a regular job because I was training all day. So I was making about $1000 a month. That's what I was living on, $1000 a month. I wired Randy Couture's house in between practices. I would go to practice in the morning, I would go to his house and insulate it, I put in light switches, I would clean up. I did whatever I could because he was paying me $20 an hour. If a sponsors came out of nowhere and gave me $500, that was life changing.
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