The controversies surrounding fighter pay in mixed martial arts are more apparent than ever, with a number of athletes speaking out against promotions – primarily the UFC – for grossly underpaying their athletes. From low-level checks at the regional scene to embarrassing sums in the big leagues, the sport is riddled with greedy businessmen solely focused on increasing their annual profits.
A number of weeks ago, former welterweight contender and UFC commentator Dan Hardy was released by the promotion following a dispute with a fellow employee. Rather than remain quiet, Hardy has since spoken up, revealing details about his time spent under the organization as a competing athlete.
“I fought GSP [Georges St. Pierre] for $24,000.” Revealed the Englishman on a latest podcast episode. “The money I put into my bank account after that fight happened was $5,400. And that was a world title fight ten/eleven years ago.”
“He got four or five million because he was on PPV points as well as his purse. We’ve had this conversation [as] I’ve trained with GSP: he spent five times what I earned on his training camp.”
Hardy squared off with welterweight champion and pound-for-pound King Georges St Pierre in 2010, losing a lopsided unanimous decision. Despite tasting defeat, many were under the illusion that being one half of a title fight – and main event – would result in a hefty paycheck. Yet this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The Outlaw” earned a shocking $24,000, taking home just $5,400 after all expenses were paid.
“Even at low-level [and] UFC level, it’s not enough [money] to live on, realistically. Because people see the purse [and] think ‘that’s a big chunk of cash’, [but] that’s going straight into that person’s bank account, and they’re living pretty for a few months. But they don’t take into account that there’s 10% [fee] for a manager, 10-20% for coaches, plus you’ve got all the expenses. Sometimes you’ve got to buy more flights for your team and you’ve got to buy more hotel rooms for them and that type of stuff.”
“Things have changed a little bit, people have gotten smarter and [started] asking for more money [because] if you don’t ask for it you won’t get it. That’s the truth of the matter.”
He offered some words of advice to young, up-and-coming fighters looking to make a name for themselves.
“You’ve got to realize you’re a business in yourself… you’ve got to be promotable.”