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Tim Kennedy: “It would be slim pickings to survive off what I make in fighting.”

Tim Kennedy: “It would be slim pickings to survive off what I make in fighting.”

The life of a UFC fighter might look glamorous but underneath the surface an ugly truth exists. Though a handful of competitors score hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars every year, the bulk of the organization’s roster rely on other means of making ends meet to pursue their passion. So, while middleweight champion Anderson Silva will bring home a seven-figure payday next weekend at UFC 162, Tim Kennedy will earn the equivalent of a man who has worked an average job for the past six months.

“I’m one of the 3% of guys in the whole entire sport and it would be slim pickings to survive off what I make in fighting,” confessed Kennedy in a recent interview with Place to Be Nation. “It’s a good thing I have another job because the UFC doesn’t pay very well.”

“I hope this isn’t the reality of the sport, if it is I should probably go do something else, like empty trash cans. I’d make more money than I do now,” he concluded, breaking down his $55,000 check bit by bit to come out with a total of $20,000 take-home.

Kennedy is scheduled to face Roger Gracie at the July 6 show. The bout will mark his UFC debut.

12 COMMENTS
  • THEGUNNER says:

    No one told u to fight and do nothing else to make $.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  • AlphaOmega says:

    And yet the UFC is probably paying him more then SF did, and at least they are actually having him fight instead of keeping him on the sidelines for over a yr

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  • fanoftna33 says:

    And he is only figuring on the show pay, what about all the sponsership money, and win money plus discrecenary bonus money the UFC pays out, not to mention FOTN bonus money if you win that. He seems a little like a Debbie Downer to me.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  • THEGUNNER says:

    If your an active fighter im sure somebodys willing to pay for lessons from an active pro.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • Richard Stabone says:

    MMA has become a mainstream professional spot, where the UFC now generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. And the UFC gives its fighters–the athletes providing the actual entertainment, upon whose back the UFC has built its empire–about a 10% chunk of that pie, with the vast majority earning enough to live paycheck to paycheck for the relatively short period they’ll fight under the UFC banner before being discarded for the next crop of talent. And even if those numbers are off and we double it to 20%, it’s still f*cking absurd, and Tim Kennedy having the balls to say something about it while actively employed is one more reason to respect the guy.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  • Richard Stabone says:

    And I’d encourage everyone to read the full article Brendhan linked to. Here’s another snippet…

    “Following UFC on FX 8, lightweight John Cholish revealed that after expenses he had lost around $6,000 through taking the fight, including losing 27% of his pay to taxes in Brazil. Cholish estimated that 90% of fighters agreed with him on fighter pay, but were afraid to speak out in case they lost their spots in the UFC.”

    Dana’s response: “Washouts are never happy.”

    That’s his attitude toward fighters. They’re the ones busting their ass in & outside of the octagon, who are the sole reason we as fans tune in to watch, creating the revenue stream that makes the UFC honchos and their TV partners rich. This part of the sport disgusts me.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • JabCrossHook says:

    Gunner, Alpha the point is that compared to what the UFC makes in total revenue and what they pay the average fighter they look like cheap fucks. Don’t forget fighters have to spend a shitload of money just to have a full camp.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • AlphaOmega says:

    True, but also don’t forget that it’s not as cut and dry as UFC makes 10 Mill a ppv, UFC pays fighter salaries -1.5 mil and pockets the rest. They have to pay a crap ton of people and overhead, not just at each event, but at every single one of their headquarters world wide.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • AlphaOmega says:

    Here’s basically how it works, we can all go back and forth about UFC and fighters pay, but one none of us have the full facts, just what’s released to public records, second its our personal opinions, but mostly Fertitas are businessmen, they’ve raised this business model to be what it is, and work how it is to make them the most money, and business is good. That will not change until there’s an overhead controlling force in MMA that can set regulations on everything, i.e. union, and since the Fertitas are so anti-union, I don’t see that happening for awhile.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • JabCrossHook says:

    Alpha the Miami Heat made a shitton of revenue and their overhead costs must be through the roof as well but their lowest paid player makes close to a million, meanwhile the consensus #2 WW for a few years (Jon Fitch) made a total of one million for ALL HIS UFC FIGHTS COMBINED and that’s before you subtract money for trainers, high level sparring partners, manager fee etc. Sorry no matter what the UFC’s overhead costs are there’s still something wrong with that. The #2 tight end or #2 point guard would make a hell of a lot more.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • AlphaOmega says:

    That’s because in both the NBA and the NFL there’s a company making rules that even out player salaries, MMA doesn’t have that, so each company is free to negotiate with each fighter individually, and then both of them have to agree to that terms. In every negotiation there’s 3 parties, the fighter, the UFC, and the fighters agent, so maybe some of the fighters just have really shitty agents?

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Richard Stabone says:

    Well, considering what the vast majority of fighters earn, I would imagine they don’t have top-notch representation when it comes to agents/lawyers. But the bigger issue here is the simple fact that the UFC holds all the leverage, which is key in any type of negotiation.

    For the vast majority of these guys, when the UFC is talking to their reps and says “we’ll offer ‘X’ number of fights at $X per fight” what’s their counter going to be? “Well, the Elite World Series of Showtime Fighting Presented by Bodog is offering more.”

    “Great, go sign that deal instead.”

    There are a few exceptions, such as Lombard or Alvarez being locked up by another organization with a match clause providing some level of protection. It allowed Lombard to get a huge payday, and Alvarez to get a pretty significant offer as well. And then when word got back to UFC champ Benson Henderson, and he started to squawk via twitter, the UFC quickly tore up his current deal and gave him a new one with a bump in pay. Again, it simply comes down to leverage and in nearly every case it’s heavily tilted in the UFC’s favor.

    And as was mentioned above, the other pro sports leagues have unions representing the athletes. So it comes down to a collective bargaining agreement between the suits running the league who provide the platform, and the athletes who provide the entertainment and put their bodies on the line. In the other major pro sports the revenue ends up being split nearly 50/50. The UFC doesn’t have to worry about that. They have full autonomy over how much they keep and how much they pay out, and while there’s no way to pinpoint an exact figure, any reasonable analysis/estimate shows that the UFC pays its fighters a tiny chunk of the pie by comparison.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

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