Labour vs. Management: Daley and Cholish


Management vs. Labor is one the great fights over the past 100 years, and this week, a couple of skirmishes erupted, showing it is not over yet. Retired UFC fighter John Cholish wants more pay for fighters, and Paul Daly just want to fight on the open market ,until his visa issues are sorted out and he can compete for Bellator in the USA.

BloodyElbow's Stephie Daniels interviewed Cholish, who says he thinks 90% of UFC fighters are unhappy with their income.

Stephie Daniels: What prompted you to come out with all the behind the scenes financial information you've been talking with the media about?

John Cholish: It's something that I've been thinking about over the past year, especially leading up to this fight. I had the opportunity to train with a lot of top level fighters, and a continuous theme I noticed, was that a lot of fighters were mentioning fighter pay and compensation, and how it's so tough to make ends meet, whether it be feeding their families or taking care of rent. I just kind of thought, 'After this fight, win or lose, I'm going to retire.'

I just wanted to speak for the fighters that might share the same opinion, but are worried that if they speak out, there will be repercussions. I wanted to give the facts and information that I have, present them to the public, and then let them create their own opinion about it.

SD: You mentioned that there are other fighters that share your opinions, but don't want to have their voices heard or be recognized for those opinions out of fear of repercussions. How many of those guys or what percentage would you estimate do share your opinions?

JC: I would say 90% including some top tier fighters. It's interesting when you look at an event that takes place over the weekend, and the reported salaries for the entire roster on that card, 24 fighters or so, can be covered alone with the in-gate ticket sales at the venue. That's before you even get to the PPV, the licensing, the merchandising, the advertising and the contracted revenue with companies like FOX.

I don't know the exact numbers, but it's pretty obscene when you look at the revenue that the UFC is taking in, compared to the portion that they're giving back to the fighters. Last I checked, the fans are buying the PPV to see the guys inside the cage, not the owners sitting outside of it.

SD: Do you think fighters are worried that they will receive less advantageous match-ups, or they might be more likely to be cut if they speak up about certain subjects in public?

JC: I think you can say that, based upon current fighters on the roster that are active and haven't spoken up. It's definitely something they do fear. I can only speak from my individual experiences, but I do know that there are a lot of fighters that aren't happy with the compensation that they're receiving, but will not speak up because they're afraid of what will happen.

Read entire interview...

Bellator fighter Paul Daley is at present unable to secure a work visa for the USA, due to an arrest and pending assault charges following a bar brawl in Britain. Daley forcefully asserts his innocence, but until the matter moves through the UK court system, Daley is unable to fight in the USA. Thus he is trying to take fights outside the US, but these must be okayed by Bellator. On Wednesday, 'Semtex' took to Facebook and said the approvals are not forthcoming.

Just got word Bellator have refused to allow me to fight yet another opponent!!! It's becoming really frustrating that even though they are not my managers, they can approve my fights.

I've got great fights offered to keep me busy fighting and earning, and they seem to want to put a stop to this....all this while, having to pay for my OWN legal costs on a matter that influence my visa outcome...and my ability to fight for the promotion (Bellator) Its bulls---.

There's a lot more too...with regards to other promoters having to PAY Bellator a "Booking fee" for using me on their shows?....


Read entire Facebook...

What do you think UG? Should the UFC be paying the undercard more, or are the asses in seats not paying for the undercard? Should Bellator let Daley fight where ever he wants to right now, or should 'Semtex' be grateful they are letting him fight outside Bellator at all?


tags: UFC   John Cholish (detail)  Paul Daley (detail)  Bellator   


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Recent Comments »

MikeeastonsBONER site profile image  

5/31/13 12:24 PM by MikeeastonsBONER

Something to think about also, if you guys want to say John Cholish does not sell tickets or ppvs. We need to re-asses the value of the under card. In your scenario we would have 2-3 fight whole cards.Or 3 full cards a year max. What is the value of the highlight footage and entertainment, prospect building that goes live and on fx/fuel/facebook?It's a big part of the show and creates revenue through tv deals and advertising. the lower tier should be a lot more than 6/6K. Just analyze the percentage of revenues that go to talent compared to other sports leagues. It's quite frankly embarrassing to the UFC in my opinion.

danggook site profile image  

5/31/13 12:04 PM by danggook

so an employee brings in a fraction of what the employer does? you don't say..

Thacommish site profile image  

5/31/13 2:26 AM by Thacommish


All My Holes Overflowing With Jones' CREam site profile image  

5/31/13 2:24 AM by All My Holes Overflowing With Jones' CREam

If MMA pay was higher I would beat up Jon Jones for you guys.

Chromium site profile image  

5/31/13 2:21 AM by Chromium

  Several issues with this. I agree trying to compare the UFC to the NBA or NFL or Major League Baseball is fallacious and not a comparable argument. The closest corollary as a professional sports league is Major League Soccer (North America). As a net total of its clubs it's been profitable for several years now but less so than the UFC. Here are some pertinent figures below from an SBNation article:     It's hard to pin down an exact estimate on revenue but in 2011 it was estimated around $280 million and I saw a recent statistical breakdown that gave an estimate of $360 million for the coming year. Keep in mind that the MLS has far, far more office employees than Zuffa does with its 19 different clubs, plus ancillary employees like coaches and assistant coaches and referees who get paid directly. MLS players also receive free training for the entire active season. They don't have to pay for their own fighter camp. No matter how you break it down, this league with higher overhead is giving 25% of its profits to its fighters. A lot less than the NFL (over 60% of its revenue goes directly to players), but they're still only finally just getting on their feet in the last few years. Let's compare the UFC: Total athletes: ~380. Total revenue, after PPV distributors take their cut: have to ballpark it at around $350 million. Within $50 of that no doubt. Do athletes receive compensation for training? Not from the UFC. Is there a league minimum? Apparently it's $4k + $4k a fight, although usually starting pay is $6k + $6k a fight. Let's say I give the UFC the benefit of the doubt and that they're only making $320 million annually. If they gave 25% to the fighters that would be $80 million. Let's say they actually have 400 fighters under contract. That's still $200,000 a fighter on average. A few dudes on top might be skewing the average, but it's clearly nowhere near that. Furthermore even the lowest paid guy in MLS is making a living wage. There are people in the UFC actually losing money and that's inexcusable. I posted this before but I thought I'd do it again. This is a proposition for UFC guaranteed financial compensation, and one they could proactively do without having to endanger themselves with a fighter's union forming and demanding a collective bargaining agreement: - Minimum Purse: $8,000 + $8,000 - First $5,000 of training costs repaid every 6 months. - $500 starting monthly stipend. Yes this is far below a living wage but for dudes having serious trouble making ends meet it can seriously help. - $2,000 minimum signing bonus on contracts. - Negotiate a more well-rounded healthcare plan. The UFC has a two year track record and can probably demonstrate that they're less of a risk. If they can reduce co-pays and have more things covered, that would help the burden considerably. Maybe even extend to spousal coverage. Coverage extends for 3 months after the end of a contract unless a fighter is terminated for conduct issues. - Likeness rights for any new product that isn't advertising an old event (like posters or DVD covers) expire one year after the end of a contract and fighters must be fairly compensated. Obviously likeness rights can still be negotiated outside of that like if the UFC wants to use a fighter for in UFC Undisputed's Pride mode or something. - 3 plane tickets and 2 hotel rooms provided for fighters and their cornermen unless they live in the same area as the event (current is 2 + 1). 5 tickets and 3 hotel rooms for champions and their opponents (current is 3 + 2 and I think challengers are not included). Fighters flying overseas get hotel compensation for at least 6 days prior to the event to get better acclimated. If fighters don't use all their tickets and hotel rooms (often teams will have multiple fighters on an event and share corners but obviously this doesn't apply to everyone), then they can get a bit of the money that they are saving the company in that instance. They could do all of these things for less than $20 million annually. It wouldn't break the bank and there'd be little danger of a union forming, and would be the right thing to do.  

CindyO site profile image  

5/31/13 1:54 AM by CindyO

Even when they were wrong?   Cindy

quality site profile image  

5/30/13 9:09 PM by quality

The thing you guys aren't mentioning is how long has MMA been really profitable? Probably less than 10 years. Basketball and boxing have both been around over 100 years and has grown their fan base and profit margins over the course of many years. MMA is still in it's infancy although it's blown up like crazy in the last few years. I'm sure as the years roll by fighter pay will go up.Also low end UFC guys are really just minor league guys working their way up to contendership level. How much does a boxer that isn't on a contendership level get? How much does a basketball player get that hasn't made it to the NBA? In most major sports you have to start off as a little kid to become a great at your sport. With MMA you can take BJJ and striking classes for a year and within 2 years you're in the UFC's low end if you don't lose.Some boxers have over 100 amateur fights before they become pro. Then they become pro and they're fighting for $500. They have to get 20 - 30 fights in before they start making good money.A UFC guy may or may not have amateur fights. They don't fight as often and really if you look at it through their whole careers unless they are champions they make much more than a boxer on a per fight basis.

KingofBJJ site profile image  

5/30/13 8:17 PM by KingofBJJ

I agree with some of what you said however, I did distinguish between Boxing promoters and Boxing organization (ie associations). It doesn't matter if it is Floyd. I could have used Tyson, Holyfield, Lennox, Pac or any similar fighters throughout recent history. I don't know anything about the UFC only getting of PPV sales, care to share that source?  Even if that were true, so what, are they paying the sound man $50k per night and guys who tie the cage together $80k per night.  The money just doesn't add up. Finally, so what that the UFC has production costs and insurance etc.?  Big whoop. The point is that the fighters are getting screwed because they have to depend on the UFC to schedule them only two fights a year. Some might say "yea but the UFC has 300+fighters" .  Again so what?  If that had half that, fighters could fight four times a year or even every month if the commssion allows it. I remember when Mike Tyson was boxing ever month (and sometimes twice a month)  for a while. You say they are two differen business models, who cares?  The UFC doesn't care whenever they run their mouths about boxing.

TheKidAintMine site profile image  

5/30/13 6:22 PM by TheKidAintMine

For my point #2, I meant to say there is NOT a Golden Boy super middleweight championship belt.

TheKidAintMine site profile image  

5/30/13 6:19 PM by TheKidAintMine

Boxing and the UFC have completely different business models. I'm not completely familiar with how boxing promoters conduct their business but there are few glaring things I'd like to point out in your post.1) You're confusing boxing promoters with boxing associations. The IBF and WBC are different boxing associations. They're not promoters, like the UFC is. Many fighters are exclusive to just one promoter.2) Boxing and the UFC have different business models. The UFC is a promoter that has its own belts. Boxing doesn't do this. AFAIK, there's a Golden Boy super middleweight championship belt.3) The elite boxers make more than the elite UFC fighters. That's a given. But using Floyd isn't a good example since he is his own promoter. He's the Dana White in the scenario.The UFC pays for its own production costs, insurance for the fighters and has costs that most boxing promoters don't have. Again different business model. And the UFC only gets to keep half of the PPV money right off the top. It's disingenious to simply say "800,000 people x $50 a head? You do the math.".