Chuck Liddell defends UFC fighter pay, tells critics ‘you picked the wrong profession
Grumbles about low fighter pay remain a thorn in UFC officials' sides, despite their best efforts to quell the ruckus. But if you're to believe one Hall of Famer, the discussion is much ado about nothing.
"Okay, look. I just had this conversation with a top-10 fighter, and he's saying the same thing. [Lower paid] guys have got to understand, this is a performance based sport, like all sports," former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell recently explained to SiriusXM Fight Club. "You fight good, you win, you get paid. Alright? You're starting out, no one knows who you are, no one cares, you don't get paid. Period. It's simple. I mean, my first contract I was offered by the UFC, or my second contract, it was 1-and-1, 2-and-2, 3-and-3. That's $12,000 for the year. Don't complain to me about fighter pay. It was $12,000 for a year and it was exclusive.
"Everybody doesn't want to hurt to lower guys from getting paid, but it comes down to, it's a performance based business. You get good, you win, then you get paid. Guys are getting paid plenty, trust me. I got paid plenty, trust me."
Liddell, who currently serves as the UFC's Executive Vice President of Business Development, continued to defend the UFC's pay structure, then grew animated as the topic turned to the negative comparisons drawn between MMA salaries and the lavish, multi-million dollar purses pulled in by boxing's biggest stars.
"Everybody points to, ‘Oh, boxing these guys are getting [paid].' There's a couple guys that make these big huge paydays. That's it," Liddell explained. "The undercards don't make anything. There's bottom guys on some of those cards that are making $100 a round. $100 a round. That's $400 for a four-round fight.
"People got to understand, the fighters at the top are the fighters that are supposed to get paid because they're the guys that are bringing people in, bringing eyes to the TV, getting pay-per-views buys, and putting people in the seats. I mean, that's what it comes down to. You want to get that? Beat everybody. Be good enough. If you're not good enough to get there -- sorry. It's not a welfare state."
"You picked the wrong sport," Liddell said in closing. "Hey, you made a good run at it. You tried. Eh, try another sport because this one doesn't work for you."