Jon Fitch Discloses 7-1/2 Years of UFC Pay: “I’ve Never Complained About Money”

June 10, 2013
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Jon Fitch at UFC 117Jon Fitch – heading into his World Series of Fighting 3 main event bout on Friday – recently made comments about the “hostile work environment” during his UFC tenure.

It’s become the focus of attention leading up to his debut fight for his new promotional home.

As is often the case with employment debates, much of the talk has centered on money, but Fitch says that is not his focus. He took time on Monday, however, to explain his UFC finances to counter recent comments from UFC president Dana White that were critical of Fitch’s complaints. White’s comments centered on remuneration.

“There’s been some talk involving money matters and me and some bonuses I’ve made over my career with the UFC,” Fitch stated. “So I wanted to shine some more light on my financial matters to give the fans a better idea the type of money a fighter like me actually makes.

“In my 18 fights with the UFC, I was paid $1,020,000 – that was show money and win money.  I also made about $300,000 in bonuses. Two of those bonuses were Fight of the Night bonuses. One was Georges St-Pierre, a $60,000 Fight of the Night, and the Erick Silva fight, that was a $70,000 bonus.  So in total I made $1,322,000.”

To most people, making over a million dollars sounds like a lot. And it is a lot of money. But Fitch continued, trying to put a little more perspective on the time it took to earn that money, adding that there were numerous career expenses paid out of that money before he could count it as his take-home pay.

“Sounds like a lot of money, but lets look at that a little bit closer,” he continued. “Out of the 18 fights out of that $1,020,000, I paid 20-percent of that to management and the gym.  So if you take that number, $1,322,000, divided by seven and a half years, I was roughly making just over $176,000 a year.  Now remember, that’s before management and gym fees. You also have other expenses you have to pay for, equipment, stuff like that.”

In a direct shot back at White for using numbers to quell Fitch’s complaints, Fitch went on to say he did some research on the money the UFC made off of the events in which he fought for them.

The UFC is a privately held company and doesn’t disclose it’s finances, but utilizing what unverifiable numbers he could find, Fitch concluded that the UFC easily made into the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during his tenure. He added that the UFC’s revenues that he could find did not include merchandising or other revenues beyond ticket sales and pay-per-view buys.

Fitch repeatedly stressed that, for him, it wasn’t about money. He was more in a defense mode in outlining the way that a fighter such as himself was paid during his UFC tenure.

“I was one of those fighters that was on the medium-to-high pay grade because I won. I won consistently,” he explained. “When you win consistently, your pay bumps up every fight. If you lose, you get stuck at the same pay scale. It’s important to win in order to make money. Most fighters didn’t make as much money as I did; that’s a fact.

“Money was never important to me.  That’s not why I fight, that wasn’t the point of fighting. I wanted to be the best in the world and prove that I am the best in the world.  I don’t know why money always gets brought back up with them and it’s not important to me, but I thought it was important for the fans to know what the numbers actually are and to get some kind of perspective what fighters are actually getting paid.

“I’ve never complained about money, I’ve always loved the money that I made from fighting with the UFC, and organizations before I fought with the UFC.”

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  • Assmonkey

    If the “hostile work environment” comment wasn’t about the money, how about telling what it WAS about then?

    Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s all about some comments made about his Lay N’ Pray style of fighting.

    • abouda

      he did say what he meant by the ‘hostile work environment’. He mentioned previously in another interview that he felt unwanted and that he was fighting for his job every fight.

    • Werdoomb

      What he means is that money wasnt everything (he enjoyed fighting) but he didn’t get paid a lot.

      Fighting is a tough business to be in man.

      I also wonder if the earnings reported above are post or pre-tax…

      • Cereal Killer

        “$1,020,000 – that was show money and win money, $300,000 in bonuses, $60,000 Fight of the Night and the Erick Silva fight, that was a $70,000 bonus. So in total I made $1,322,000.” That would all be before taxes.

        I don’t care what the Fitch haters say, I appreciate the high level of skill in his fighting.

  • shakejunt

    to all those people who complain about fighter pay…

  • KingLettuce

    All I know is that he’s a hecuva fighter and shouldn’t have been cut.

  • Daniel Dieringer

    I hope fighter pay goes up for the top ufc fighters/belt holders, Anderson should make no less than 10 mil a fight.

  • toom

    that’s a lot of money until you find out boxers can like triple that in.one fight

    • bajafox

      How many boxers can you name that make triple that right off the top of your head?

      • toom

        all I’m saying is look at Anderson Silvas pay he’s been.champ forever now look at mayweathers he makes.more in one fight then all of the ufc champs combined ufc fighters for being professional athletes make nothing

    • JDMMA

      yeah right !!!! most boxers get paid $500/ fight even champs make $10,000/ fight, remeber there are over 10 boxing organizations WBO, WBC, IBL, IBF etc etc etc

      • Baller31

        champion boxers make a hell of a lot more than $10000/fight..and top ten boxers make a hell of a lot more than Fitch ever did. There are lots of pro boxers, and they may fight in a little small town arena when first starting out for $500/fight, but once they are competing in a large organization on the level of the UFC, where it is televised, and on PPV, then even the boxers on the undercard are making over $100000/fight. If you want to talk about champions making $1000/fight, just look at some of the fledgling MMA promotions that are scattered all over the country. Boxers make a hell of a lot more than MMA fighters when you compare apples to apples.

        • Lucas Freire

          Boxers on the undercard making 100,000? You’re dellusional.

          Just like any other sport,the huge amounts of money guys like Pacquiao or Mayweather earn is built over lots and lots of boxers earning way less.

          Maybe some top10 fighters make over $100,000 per fight,but there are not as many as you think

          • Baller31

            You’re delusional. Just one example from thousands…Ortiz vs Mayweather undercard…not counting any earnings from sponsors, etc., erik morales earned $350000
            pablo cesar cano $100000
            jessie vargas $100000

            joseito lopez $30000

            and that’s just one undercard…from 2 years ago…and on that card the headliner mayweather made $25 million.

            http://www.boxingnews24.com/2011/09/mayweather-to-make-25-million-ortiz-2-million-morales-350000-tonight/

          • Marcus Miles

            Im with you and just to inform you if you don’t know already. Meyweather will always make over 20 million because not only is he the undefeated king of that division, he is his own promotion unlike others who have to pay promotors. And of course they will make huge money because the sport of boxing has evolved over years to wear all these fights are financed through cross promotions so there is a grip of money being thrown around. Eric Morales is a huge name but he had not fought in a while since that fight your talking about and IMHO he looked like age had cought up with him. I don’t know if you saw the fight Suga Shane Mosley had with Canello Alvarez, but Shane went from making millions just a year earlier from that fight to 500,000. All in all there is way more money in WBO, IBF boxing organizations because it has evolved and they had been around for ever.

          • Baller31

            You, sir, are delusional and need to watch more boxing. $100000 isn’t even a lot for an undercard boxer. I will cite just one out of hundreds of examples: mayweather vs ortiz, 2011, undercard fighter salaries:
            erik morales $350000
            pablo cesar cano $100000
            jessie vargas $100000

            joseito lopez $30000

            and mayweather made $25 million on that card…if you compare the top 10 mma fighters in any weight class to the top 10 boxers in that weight class…the pay difference is ridiculous. mayweather makes more in one fight than Anderson Silva will make in his whole life, to put it in perspective. sorry if this comes up twice but my first reply got flagged for some stupid reason

      • toom

        Yeah but.look at the known boxers check what they make look at any other sport someone on the level that Fitch is should make much more

      • Maddawgmar

        In three fights Micky Ward made 3 million dollars against Gatti. Recently Josesito Lopez banked over a million just to fight Canelo Alvarez. You are talking about new fighters that haven’t accomplished anything yet.

    • ROY

      In Boxing paying model, fighters always gets the big chunks of money in the table while in MMA, UFC for example, MMA greed model, always gets 70 per cent or more of the money. Fighters like Mayweather or Pacquiao earned a lots of money and even co-promote their fights and earn ever more.

  • JDMMA

    well he should have beat GSP and been a reigning WW Champ,,, he would be making over $5 mil/ year like GSP

  • the accountant

    for the most part, he probably was unwanted – I know I never wanted him on my television

  • Sir_Roy

    Very borderline income IMHO for the level at which he competed while staying in the win column for as long as he did. Doesn’t exactly inspire the next generation to sacrifice their bodies, time and energy … unless one is more about testing one’s limits, trying to be the best, to beat the best, and that song and dance … I suppose …

    • MuayThaiFood

      Pathetic really, I’m going to keep my day job. A lot of these guys are going to end up arthritic cripples. The abuse they are putting their bodies isn’t worth it for that kind of compensation.

    • Lucas Freire

      Well,because guess what? UFC is not about being the best and beat the best anymore.

      Sure Anderson Silva and GSP make a lot of money,but they are the ultimate legends of the UFC.

      While Fitch has an incredible record he doesn’t sell fights.
      Now go out there and look at the paycheck of guys like Rampage.

      Hell,Rampage was a great fighter on Pride days and had a UFC belt…

      Go look at Sonnen’s paycheck!

      That’s why I pray for a better future to the MMA.
      I have hopes on a merge of all small companies in order to make front against the UFC. Monopoly is never a good thing,and by the way the river flows soon the ufc will become the new WWE,if it isn’t already

      • shakejunt

        can’t wait to watch “b-leagues united”

        hating the ufc is getting stale

        • Lucas Freire

          I don’t hate the UFC,the UFC has the best fighters for every division. But it’s common sense that monopoly isn’t good for anyone other than the employer.

          • Cyclops

            Monopoly isn’t good from a financial stand point, but from a professional view it’s the best thing there could be….how many heavy weight champs are there in boxing and which one is the best and that goes for every weight class….with the UFC everybody knows who is the best in every weight class, if ur not in the UFC ur only working ur way into it.

          • Ashley Rodriguez

            Every major sport in America is monopolized. NFL, MLB, etc. boxing is so widespread that a belt isn’t even close to undisputed. I’m more than a fair weather boxing fan and I can’t even keep up with all the hoopla.

      • Ashley Rodriguez

        The fans dictate the purse disparities. Sonnen is a genius at marketing himself and Silva is a genius at being the best, most exciting mma fighter ever. Lets thank Dana White that he makes fights based on the consumer, and the fact that skill level is outweighed by excitement. Otherwise our pugilistic highlight of the year would be watching mayweathers dodging counterpunches… Yawn

        • Baller31

          The fans do not dictate purse disparities, the fighters’ contracts do, The UFC promotes it’s own fighters, so it does not have to haggle with other fighter’s promoters over who makes what. Also, there is no fighter’s union. These circumstance let the UFC do great business and keep a much larger cut of the profits than occurs in boxing. And why in the world would you ever thank Dana White for making fights based on anything other than skill level?!? Are you thanking Dana White for the debacle that was Sonnen vs Jones? Maybe we should ignore rankings and just have fights that sell, and that way a fighter doesn’t actually have to win…they can just smack talk their way to a fight like Nick Diaz.

        • Milosc

          shill

      • Rence

        The UFC is not a monopoly. Not by any definition of the term save 1, that one definition is “oh they’re the biggest and i dont like them so they’re a monopoly”, and that definition doesnt matter.

        The UFC does nothing to prevent YOU from starting your own MMA promotion. They do nothing to keep you out of the market. If you cannot compete with them, how is that their fault? Sure, they’ve bought a few other promotions, but the owners of those other promotions were not forced to sell by the UFC.

        Everybody complains about the UFC and says that they’re a monopoly and they rip fighters off, everyone except the overwhelming majority of MMA fighters out there. And the majority of MMA fighters who DO talk s*** about the UFC are the ones that either werent good enough to get into the UFC or were released from the UFC for whatever reason.

        So, if the UFC sucks so bad, If the ufc rips off its fighters, if the UFC is any other of a number of bs complaints, why then is it that so many fighters, even ones under contract to other promotions, always say they want to get into the UFC?

        The lesser known guys on the undercard dont make much money, thats true. BUT they make more than fighters in other promotions, in some cases more than the main card fighters in other promotions. The UFC also makes it very easy to get a raise every time you fight, and its pretty simple. WIN FIGHTS! Do that and you get more money every time you step into the cage. Not difficult. Guys that cant do that? Well, Bellator always needs undercard guys im sure…

        But seriously, just once i’d like to see someone post who’s taken the time to learn what the word monopoly means before they start their ranting

  • cmc

    My job treats me like dirt too, but it would take me roughly 35 years to make 1.3 million. He should just stfu and be happy he got a chance to make that doing what he loves.

    • hybe

      ? he wasn’t even complaining

    • Werdoomb

      Dude, you are an anonymous weekday poster on an MMA website that goes by the moniker of “cmc.”

      Jon Fitch is one of the best MMA fighters in the world.

      You are a joe schmoe and get paid like one. Jon Fitch is not a joe schmoe and therefore has a stronger claim to make more than you.

      So…your argument is completely dooomb.

      • Koscheck

        I enjoyed that thank you

      • cmc

        Who gives a crap what my handle is? Obviously with a name like “werdoom” u must be the most clever guy in grade school. Btw, i wasn’t making an argument, it was a statement. U should focus on finishing the 7th grade before tossing out anymore insults.

    • toom

      so it’s ok Dana is clearly ripping these guys off wait it must be ok he’s doing what he loves

      • cmc

        Just to clarify, I was only saying most people would claim they are not treated as fair as they should be by their employers. Fitch just made more money than most people will ever see in their life, and all he had to do was put up with a crappy boss. Boo effin hoo.

        • toom

          dude it’s the principal of it there being taken advantage of he is a professional athlete on the highest level and made only that much money in like eight years if you can’t understand that then no offense but your an idiot

          • cmc

            No offense taken. This is just further proof that Fitch shouldn’t bitch. Not only is he a millionaire, he also has a whole buncha fanboys out there ready to blow him at the drop of a hat.

          • kbroesq

            Yeah, I agree with you. The guy made a lot of money doing what he loved, and on top of that, he as all these people rallying for him.

            Fitch got cut because he was not interesting and he COULD have been. If he fought every fight like the fight with Eric Silva, then he wouldn’t have gotten cut. The fight with Silva showed you could be a wrestler, and fight an awesome and entertaining fight. Unfortunately, that fight was the exception rather than the rule. It was just too much humping and booing from the fans for years. Then Maia embarrassed him.

            Look, I will agree that the UFC pay scale needs to change for the lower and middle guys, and I will agree that the UFC is greedy in many instances, but I will not agree that Fitch needed to make more. People didn’t watch the UFC because of him; they turned it off because of him. Why should the UFC pay six figures per fight for that?

  • Milosc

    That “Ken Shamrock blasts UFC” interview before the Jones fight just getting keeps more right…

    We’ve got Paul Kelly slinging heroin after 9 fights in the organization, Fitch biting his nails to pay rent after a shoulder surgery… I think Dana needs to keep Don King’s name out of his mouth for awhile

    He also needs to stop acting like such a big shot, laying-down-the-law for [freaking] twitter, when he’s out nickel and diming the only people in his *production company* that gives any credibility in the arena of sport. Doesn’t sound so “just like NFL, NBA, MLB, etc…” to me, buddy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGCTJkQV5D4

  • Reed

    You can’t hold on for dear life, if you’re not given the chance. It was good to see Hendricks test Fitch’s chin. Welcome to the minors Jon!lol

  • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

    Very wise of Fitch not to bad mouth the pay or make any negative comments. Sounds to me like he would like back in the UFC after racking up a few good wins outside the organization. All depends on his contract with WSOF. Honestly that’s a great promotion but not for a former high level UFC fighter like Jon Fitch.

    • Milosc

      What he did say laid far more damage, imo. The facts are bad enough, all on their own. He doesn’t have to play the bad guy because he isn’t the bad guy

      I like how he invites the public to look this up, themselves. In light of that, and the immediate questions raised once one does, I’m even more interested to hear UFC’s answer (or lack thereof)

  • MMAreality

    The thing that kills me about this talk of money is that these guys know what they are making and getting themselves into. If you work in a job that is not profitable enough for you and your family, then maybe you should find a different job or career. It also seems to me that the only fighters that are complaining are the ones on their way out or out. If Nick Diaz gets tired of salting fry’s at McDonald’s for 7.25 he will stock shelves at Wal-Mart for 7.66.

    • Lawdog1521

      The other thing, it’s not “work” for them. They’re getting paid to work out, train, and fight. Something most of us do for free or even pay to do.

      Now compare that to the poor guy at McDonald’s. He’s working his ass off doing something that sucks for minimum wage but does it anyway to support a family or earn his way. That’s hard.

      People need to put things in perspective and shut up.

  • Edgar ontano

    Excuses, stop crying. win fights in WSOF an then come back to the ufc

  • Mark McDowall

    The two things Fitch didn’t mention is sponsorships and PPV money. The majority of equipment they use, clothes, pads, gloves etc, are donated by sponsors.

    Also PPV money. This is part of their contract but it isn’t ever reported as far as I know. Main event fighters get pretty good money from this. For example, in 2010 Brock Lesnar was paid 400k per fight. His total income for the year was $5.3 million…you do the math. Now Lesnar was a magnet for sponsors and PPV buyers, but Fitch was on some big selling cards.

  • Steve

    You have to look at it another way… Each fight card there are at least 20 fighters involved. UFC would run out of money if they were to make everyone miliionaires… That’s why I love this sport each fight card typicall has 3 bouts that I am iterested in vs. Boxing.

  • Lawdog1521

    I remember him bitching about not being paid enough years ago. Here’s the thing, Jon. You have to be a superstar to get superstar money. And only people with severe insomnia like watching you fight.

  • The Quorum

    I’m no tax expert–if anyone is familiar with the area, I’m curious as to whether Fitch could (or maybe did) claim any of his management/gym/equipment expenses as a deduction (I think expenses > 2% of AGI are deductible; not sure if there is a cap).

    Anyway, those saying fighters “deserve” to be paid more are missing the point. Deserve is a matter of perspective/personal values. Some would say teachers, first responders, etc. “deserve” to be paid more, while bankers, lawyers, and many pro athletes “deserve” to be paid less. The reality is that you’re paid what you’re worth to your employer (i.e., enough to keep you around).

    In the case of the UFC, which is a near-monopoly, that value could be skewed. But the answer to salaries depressed by a lack of a competitive market is collective bargaining, which would arguably put downward pressure on the income of top or near-top earners like Fitch, to the benefit of the fighters earning 5-10 grand a fight. That’s why you don’t see many top fighters backing up their “I don’t get paid enough” talk with calls for unionization (Tito was “thoughtful” enough to call for a fighters’ union in the twilight of his career).

    The bottom line is that you cannot compare the UFC’s pay scale to other professional sports organizations for the time being. The company spends a lot of money on growth and maintains a fighter roster near the limits of its financial capability to meet the growing demand for events. The UFC is also a single private company, and not a consortium of owners like the NBA/NFL/NHL etc., or a group of promotions like boxing, which makes comparison even more difficult.

    Bottom line is that “deserve ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.”

  • Cuntlick

    For a top tier fighter the money he made ain s***! 20% management then almost half gone to the tax office. Please argue with me somebody!

  • Kbroesq

    Neither the UFC, nor any other sporting organization, should be a refuge for complacency, mediocrity (or slightly above mediocrity). If you want job security and consistency, you go do what we do; you sit behind a desk, or do hard labor and get up early every day.

    If you want to make huge amounts of money by being an athlete, you have to do it by inspiring people; not cruising by on your wrestling by holding people down when you could clearly do more. Fitch just got too complacent holding people down and not doing anything with it. Most of his fights were decisions where the judges were forced to say: “well, I have to give this fight to someone; probably should be the guy who held the other guy down the whole fight.”

    As I said in another comment on this story, the Eric Silva fight was awesome. Fitch used wrestling in an aggressive and entertaining way. But I guess it was too much too late. Guaranteed, if Fitch fought every fight like that fight, he wouldn’t have gotten cut.