Whether through the rise of Jake Paul in combat sports and his public pursuit for better remuneration or the widely-covered dispute between heavyweight king Francis Ngannou and the UFC, it’s safe to say that the fighter pay debate has risen as close to the surface as ever in MMA discussion.
While many claim that the share of the UFC’s profits that are distributed to its fighters is clearly low and in need of change, others, including the promotion’s owners Endeavor, have suggested that the organization can’t be compared to other sports league in regards to financial structure.
That individual, former lightweight title challenger Chandler, spoke about the topic during an appearance on the How U Livin J Piven podcast. “Iron” Mike seemingly suggested that fighters have it easy compared to the UFC President and the promotion’s higher-ups.
“I take some flak for it from other fighters, (but) I don’t have a problem with the ‘fighter pay’ argument,” said Chandler. “People think that we should make a lot more money because the UFC makes a ton of money on their shows. Well, the UFC’s been at it since 1993. Dana White has had 10,000 sleepless nights when most of us fighters are just showing up to practice, going to bed, laying our head on the pillow, and getting after it, and getting paid a decent wage.”
Given the fact many fighters have expressed their financial troubles, including women’s flyweight Sarah Alpar, who was even forced to start a GoFundMe page ahead of her 2021 fight with Erin Blanchfield in order to fund medical and camp costs, it’s safe to say that not everyone sleeps as cosily as the former Bellator champion apparently does.
But according to Chandler, that’s not the UFC’s fault, as the athlete is actually to blame…
Chandler Suggests Pay Issue Is Down To The Fighters
Chandler went on to suggest that it’s down to the fighters to build their own brands and find their own outside earnings.
Given that those on the UFC roster remain independent contractors, the MMA vet believes that the onus is on athletes to correctly monetize themselves and create or pursue money-making avenues beyond the confines of the cage.
“For me, I have been able to monetize things outside of just my fights. You’ll always see guys on the microphone saying that the UFC should pay more, or the media should say the UFC should pay more,” said Chandler. “And it’s never the guys who are out their having their own YouTube channel, getting roles in movies, building fitness and lifestyle programs, selling merchandise, doing all the different things that we can do as fighters, because we’re independent contractors.
“We can do whatever we want with our platform, and our name and likeness,” Chandler continued. “The UFC owns it, and they can use a picture and video of me whenever they want, but I can sell shirts, I can sell hats, I can do whatever I want.”
Chandler concluded with perhaps a controversial analogy, comparing the fighter pay debate with the idea that the lower ranks of society attempt to damage those above them by throwing rocks from below.
“I always think that there’s people on the lower rungs of society always throwing rocks at the people above them, when it takes the same amount of energy to reach up and grab the next rung to pull themselves up,” concluded Chandler.
With more and more names giving their two-pence when it comes to the fight pay discussion, as well as the ongoing, albeit debated, work of “The Problem Child” to drive change, it stands to reason that this debate isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Do you agree with Michael Chandler’s take on the fighter pay debate?