Former UFC light heavyweight Sam Alvey has once again spoken out in support of the promotion’s fighter pay structure.
This past weekend, Alvey’s Octagon tenure came to an unceremonious end at the hands of Michał Oleksiejczuk. The final bout of the veteran’s contract came to a close in less than two minutes, with the Polish 27-year-old adding an eighth defeat to Alvey’s record-breaking nine-fight winless run.
With his departure recently confirmed, Alvey joins fellow veteran Donald Cerrone outside of the promotion following a lengthy stint under the UFC banner. But unlike many athletes and employees, both men will be departing without the kind of pension scheme and post-retirement support that is in place in many sports, and in the Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Alvey, who has been a staunch supporter of the UFC when it comes to the widely debated fighter pay topic, was asked whether it’s frustrating to leave the organization without a pension plan in place.
In response, “Smile’n” Sam praised the UFC for what he described as “exponential” increases in the lowest bracket of fighter pay since he first entered the Octagon back in 2014.
“If the UFC could find a way to do that, but to increase — the UFC has been increasing rates of pay at exponential rates,” Alvey said. “When I first started fighting in UFC, I fought for eight and eight. Right now, if you’re just starting, it’s 12 and 12. In the eight or nine years I’ve been in UFC, the starting pay has gone up by 50%. There’s not a job in the world that has gone up by 50% in the last eight years. The UFC has done that at their starting level.
“What I just made to lose this last fight is more than title contenders and champions made when I was first starting in UFC. The pay is going up at an astronomically fast rate, and they’ve done it without changing how many people hire,” Alvey added. “As a matter of fact, they’re hiring more people than ever before and they have more shows.”
Unfortunately, despite the move from $8,000/$8,000 to $12,000/$12,000, those at that end of the UFC scale have certainly struggled to manage in the past. Most notably, women’s flyweight Sarah Alpar was forced to star a GoFundMe page ahead of her September 2021 contest with Erin Blanchfield.
The page noted that she was struggling to afford the costs of fight camp and the extra purchases that are required in modern-day MMA. Many would perhaps point out that the 50% increase Alvey mentions still isn’t in-line with the increasing cost of competing at the highest level.
Alvey Explains Why He Accepts Pension-Less Retirement
Later in the conversation, Alvey explained that, even though he’d appreciate the chance to exit the sport with a pension secured, he understands that the UFC is yet to find an appropriate way to implement such a system.
According to the 36-year-old Wisconsin native, any attempt to force the promotion into agreeing to post-retirement financial aid would result in a host of fighter cuts, which is something he wouldn’t want on his conscience.
“If they were to be able to find a way to pay me a pension, or pay me a this, or pay me that post-retirement, fantastic,” Alvey noted. “(But) I don’t wanna force them do that because as soon as I or somebody forces them to do that, they’re gonna have to make cuts somewhere else. They’re gonna have to limit their roster to pay me for the rest of my life… They’re gonna have to fire 400 fighters to be able to do that for me and the remaining 400 fighters.
“They’re doing everything they can as fast as they can, at least that’s what I’m seeing, to increase our pay to the point where, we’re getting — we may never make as much as a baseball player is, but we’re getting close,” Alvey concluded.
While he won’t be having his UFC contract renewed following his latest setback, Alvey’s pre-UFC Vegas 59 confidence suggests that he’s far from done inside the cage. If he does return under another banner, he’ll be hoping to record his first MMA win since 2018.
What do you make of Sam Alvey’s comments on fighter pay?