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UnderGround Forums >> Labour vs. Management: Daley and Cholish


5/30/13 10:54 AM
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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?....

Terrible.

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?


5/30/13 11:33 AM
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jimbonice
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This is a lonely thread. I believe the sentiments expressed by Cholish are accurate and need to be addressed. Fighter pay is abhorrent, and frankly, I believed it dissuades many to athletes from participating in mma. Ya pay peanuts and ya get monkeys. Phone Post
5/30/13 11:44 AM
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warfrog
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Pfftt. There is always a 9-5 job. No one is bending my arm to fight. And if I don't like the pay of one promotion I can always choose another. I always roll my eyes at clowns that 'play' football for a living whining about pay, or fighters. Phone Post 3.0
5/30/13 11:44 AM
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MMALOGIC
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John CHolish had 9 professional fights when he signed with the UFC. he got a 6k to show and 6k to win deal. He was a preliminary fighter who lost 2 of his 3 fights.

Did Zuffa sell 6k or more worth of tickets or ppv because John Cholish was on the card? heck no...

John Cholish is acting like zuffa sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tickets and ppv buys on his name and only paid him 6k.

In general prelim fighters are overpaid. Most of them dont make it and they never individually bring in sales comparable to their pay.

GSP started at 3k and 3k.
5/30/13 12:17 PM
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eforrest04
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Why does it always seem to be fighters with no fan base complaining about wanting more pay for something people are not paying to see. We don't pay to see guys win 1 out of 3 in the UFC. Everyone starts somewhere and as they make there way up they get better money. Blame your manager for not getting you a better deal and blame yourself for not having a fan base that can create some demand for seeing you. If it is the UFC that pays so bad why retire fight someplace else? Because they don't pay like Zuffa because they aren't bringing in million dollar gates and 6 figure ppv buys. Like the one guy said GSP started out 3/3 McCall was like 9/9 with a decent fan base and this dude thinks that fighters no one knows or is paying to see should get what the stars are getting or have the company pay taxes for them?
5/30/13 12:28 PM
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BTT-RyannVonDoom
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There was a time when the posters here would side with fighters.. Not anymore it seems. Phone Post 3.0
5/30/13 12:48 PM
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Bisping=Gatekeeper4Life
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He has a point, more often than not the money brought in at the gate covers what the fighters earn. What happens to the rest? Dana and co can spout all about marketing and venues all they want but we know the truth. Dana's waiters are getting tipped 20 grand a time! Phone Post 3.0
5/30/13 12:49 PM
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Standup29
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Let me start with saying we all want the fighters to make more money. All of us.

With that said, if you aren't happy with the terms, don't sign. If you think or realize fighting doesn't cover your cost of living, go into another line of work.

It really is that cut and dry. Nobody is forcing these guys into a fighting career. If you got into fighting for the money you better have a fan friendly style and win the big fights.

I find it bothersome Cholish did recieve a bonus on two occasions and still complained. Sure it wasn't va ton of money but considering he lost a fight he still got 5k which is almost what his show money was. It almost doubled his pay and they weren't obligated to give it to him at all. He knew the pay he would get and signed anyway. his fault. Phone Post
5/30/13 12:51 PM
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Standup29
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BTT-RyannVonDoom - There was a time when the posters here would side with fighters.. Not anymore it seems. Phone Post 3.0
I think many of us support the fighters but aren't afraid to question why these guys sign. If the money is no good, go fight elsewhere. Enough guys become stars under other promotions and I bet ufc base pay goes way up. Phone Post
5/30/13 1:01 PM
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quality
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What other sport is the bar so low that you can go pro so quickly and without having almost superhuman abilities or skills? None that I know of. A guy can literally walk into a gym train for a few months and within a year or two of taking up MMA as a hobbyist they can be in the UFC.
5/30/13 1:03 PM
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quality
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Also for Daley that sucks that he can't fight elsewhere. He probably should have read his contract before signing. I'm surprised he signed a contract like that because a lot of Bellator guys fight in other places besides Bellator, it's not like he was their champion or even a contender.
5/30/13 1:14 PM
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crumbs
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It cost a lot of money to try and be a pro fighter, well I hope it fucken does, there are thousands of nfl/NHL/nba/MLB hopefuls that spend tons of cash and time on trying to make it, and most don't even make it to the minors, we don't want to pay to watch bums play pro sports, if you can't make it to the big show, then tuff shit, maybe it's a sign your not suppose to be a pro, so Cholish didn't turn out to be franky Edgar or JBJ, a story that happens a million times over in any sport.

I'm not saying fighters shouldn't get paid more, but I can't say it's any more important then wal mart workers getting paid more, lots of motherfuckers deserve more.
5/30/13 1:15 PM
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Hey Beer Man
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90% of CEOs complain about their income, too. I think it is human nature and not a UFC issue. Even at the low end these guys are making a living wage. Stop bitching and learn a trade that pays.
5/30/13 1:20 PM
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MMALOGIC
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Bisping=Gatekeeper4Life - He has a point, more often than not the money brought in at the gate covers what the fighters earn. What happens to the rest? Dana and co can spout all about marketing and venues all they want but we know the truth. Dana's waiters are getting tipped 20 grand a time! Phone Post 3.0

how much of that money at the gate did John Cholish bring in? Who bought a ticket because John Cholish is on the card?

If you wanna talk about zuffa's revenue let's talk about how much of that revenue John Cholish is responsible for producing.

cholish and guys like him bring in zero revenue so why the heck is he talking about sharing in the revenue?
5/30/13 1:22 PM
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TheKidAintMine
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MMALOGIC - John CHolish had 9 professional fights when he signed with the UFC. he got a 6k to show and 6k to win deal. He was a preliminary fighter who lost 2 of his 3 fights.

Did Zuffa sell 6k or more worth of tickets or ppv because John Cholish was on the card? heck no...

John Cholish is acting like zuffa sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tickets and ppv buys on his name and only paid him 6k.

In general prelim fighters are overpaid. Most of them dont make it and they never individually bring in sales comparable to their pay.

GSP started at 3k and 3k.

Good post.
5/30/13 1:45 PM
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craigdonley
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In my opinion, all of his points are valid and accurate.

His main point, I think, is not for more money but ENOUGH money so that: It covers training camp, it covers expenses during the fight(flight/hotels corner men)so that the fighter does not have to worry about making ends meet and solely concentrating on the fight itself.
5/30/13 1:48 PM
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danggook
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bellator fucking yet another fighter Phone Post
5/30/13 5:10 PM
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Bisping=Gatekeeper4Life
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MMALOGIC -
Bisping=Gatekeeper4Life - He has a point, more often than not the money brought in at the gate covers what the fighters earn. What happens to the rest? Dana and co can spout all about marketing and venues all they want but we know the truth. Dana's waiters are getting tipped 20 grand a time! Phone Post 3.0

how much of that money at the gate did John Cholish bring in? Who bought a ticket because John Cholish is on the card?

If you wanna talk about zuffa's revenue let's talk about how much of that revenue John Cholish is responsible for producing.

cholish and guys like him bring in zero revenue so why the heck is he talking about sharing in the revenue?
Your argument is flawed. GSP brings in 50-60 million at least and gets paid a fraction of that. Nobody is disagreeing with your point about Cholish, we know he doesn't sell 6 grands worth of tickets. Our argument is there is a very large chunk of money going in Zuffa's pockets when there are fighters struggling to pay bills. Phone Post 3.0
5/30/13 6:19 PM
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TheKidAintMine
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KingofBJJ - 

Asses in seats don't bring in the money, PPVs do. It always has been. Since the UFC is always comparing itself with boxing, but then turns around and says it isn't boxing when it is convenient, lets look at a few things:

1) Boxers are not stuck  with one organization.  They can fight for the WBA and then turn around and fight in the IBF and then go to the WBC.

2) Because boxers can change organizationsfreely it creates and Free Market where organizations are vying for the fighters. It is truethat a promoter, like Don King, contracts fighters to fight for him, but he doesn't own the championship belts like the Promotions in MMA do.

3)While it is true that the top MMA fighters can pull six figures (or in the case of Cain and Lesner $400k) and maybe make another $100k from sponsors and supposed undisclosed sums from the promoters, they only fight twice a year.  While Boxers of the same level can make seven figures per fight, or in the case guys like Mayweather:  eight figures.

When you look at the UFC card and how conveniently the UFC breaks down who much all fighers make as it is distributed from the gate sales.  That doesn't include the UFC sponsors like Budweiser or the Marines. It certainly doesn't include PPV sales which the UFC NEVER discloses.  800,000 people x $50 a head?  You do the math.

Of course the blind Dana lovers will always say "yea but the fighter make millions from sponsors, blah, blah".  But when you tell them to present the data, they resort to calling you names to deflect the issue.

 


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.".
5/30/13 6:22 PM
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TheKidAintMine
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For my point #2, I meant to say there is NOT a Golden Boy super middleweight championship belt.

5/30/13 9:09 PM
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quality
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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.
5/31/13 1:54 AM
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CindyO
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BTT-RyannVonDoom - There was a time when the posters here would side with fighters.. Not anymore it seems. Phone Post 3.0

Even when they were wrong?

 

Cindy

5/31/13 2:21 AM
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Chromium
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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.

 

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:

 


table

 

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.

 

5/31/13 2:24 AM
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All My Holes Overflowing With Jones' CREam
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If MMA pay was higher I would beat up Jon Jones for you guys.
5/31/13 2:26 AM
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Thacommish
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Bisping=Gatekeeper4Life - 
MMALOGIC -
Bisping=Gatekeeper4Life - He has a point, more often than not the money brought in at the gate covers what the fighters earn. What happens to the rest? Dana and co can spout all about marketing and venues all they want but we know the truth. Dana's waiters are getting tipped 20 grand a time! Phone Post 3.0

how much of that money at the gate did John Cholish bring in? Who bought a ticket because John Cholish is on the card?

If you wanna talk about zuffa's revenue let's talk about how much of that revenue John Cholish is responsible for producing.

cholish and guys like him bring in zero revenue so why the heck is he talking about sharing in the revenue?
Your argument is flawed. GSP brings in 50-60 million at least and gets paid a fraction of that. Nobody is disagreeing with your point about Cholish, we know he doesn't sell 6 grands worth of tickets. Our argument is there is a very large chunk of money going in Zuffa's pockets when there are fighters struggling to pay bills. Phone Post 3.0

Bingo.

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