Jon Fitch On Changing Priorities, Financial Burden & New Outlook on Making Money in MMA

October 8, 2012
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Jon Fitch at UFC 87The last two years have not been easy on UFC welterweight Jon Fitch.

He’s had more surgeries on his body than he’s had fights, and the time off has been physically, mentally and financially very taxing. Despite having 16 fights in the UFC, Fitch fell on hard times over the last 12 months and it has taken its toll on his body, but mostly it has taken its toll on his bank account.

“It’s awful and it goes back even further because last February 2011 I had shoulder surgery, so I fought in February and then I was out again until December. Then I fought once and I haven’t fought since, it’s awful. It’s a terrible mental burden, terrible physical burden, terrible financial burden,” Fitch revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio.

“We don’t make millions of dollars as it is, but if you’re not fighting, you’re not getting paid, so things have been a little bit rough in the bank account.”

Looking back on his last fight against Johny Hendricks in December 2011, it almost seems like Fitch didn’t even get a chance to compete. Hendricks caught him with a big punch early, and in only 12 seconds, Fitch was handed the second loss of his UFC career.

Fitch actually took the fight with an injury, but he’s not making any excuses as to why he lost. He’s not even saying he looks back on that fight with regret of any kind. He did exactly what he wanted to do when he fought Hendricks and that’s all that matters to him.

“Honestly, there’s zero bad taste from that fight because, at the end of the day, it was mission accomplished. I shouldn’t have fought that night. I had no business fighting that night. I had a second degree MCL tear; my mind wasn’t in the fight. The only reason I stepped through that cage door is because I needed the money,” said Fitch.

“I had a pregnant wife and two mortgages. If I didn’t fight, I probably would have had to retire and get a day job. I did what I set out to do in that fight. I have no negative feelings towards that fight at all.”

Fitch is quick to point out that his financial burden isn’t uncommon because like any job, when you’re not working, you’re not getting paid. The last two years, Fitch has fought twice and between the time off and all the medical costs, his bank account has seen better days.

Sixteen fights in the UFC, a load of seniority in the welterweight division and Twitter followers don’t equate to money in the bank to pay the bills and Fitch has seen the ugly side of that a lot over the last 24 months.

“It can go away in a flash. We get paid okay money. It’s not great money. We’re not making NFL or NBA money; we’re making okay money. But if you’re not fighting, you don’t get paid. So that okay money is gone and now you have (expletive) money,” said Fitch.

“If you’re not finding a way to get in the cage, you’re not getting paid.”

Luckily for Fitch, he has had the support of a couple of great sponsors that helped keep him afloat during these long stretches of inactivity, but as a whole, he knows the sponsorship market in MMA isn’t exactly flourishing these days.

“Especially in this economy, sponsors aren’t awesome right now,” Fitch stated. “I have some really good sponsors and they’ve really been helping me out. Without them, I probably would have had to get another job because money has been tight. It’s just the environment we’re in right now, we don’t have sponsors throwing tons of money at us on monthlies because the economy just doesn’t really allow that now.”

The rough waters have forced Fitch into a new mentality as he heads into his next bout, against Erick Silva at UFC 153 in Brazil. Of course, he’d love to work his way back into title contention and once again battle for the UFC welterweight gold, but he knows now that his priorities have to change.

He’s got a wife at home and a new baby boy to worry about, and those are the important things in life.

“Priorities have changed and things I’ve had to accept. I think I was kind of just stubborn with wanting this sport to just be a sport kind of like an amateur sport. Well, it’s not, it’s an entertainment industry and at the end of the day, the people who get the opportunity are the people who sell tickets. It doesn’t matter who you beat, it might matter how you beat them, but if people see you as boring and you don’t sell tickets, you’re not going to get opportunities,” Fitch said.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you win. It doesn’t matter who you’ve beaten. All that matters is: do you put butts in the seat? With that acceptance and my priorities changing towards me needing to take care of my family, me needing to make money, you have to make those changes, you have to adapt and evolve into the system that’s there.”

Facing a very tough challenge in Erick Silva in his home country of Brazil, Fitch is hoping to not only bring home a paycheck, but change a few fans’ minds when it comes to his style of fighting.

“I know the kind of fireworks this fight can bring and that means dollar signs,” said Fitch. “So fireworks, fans loving it, that all equals dollar signs at the end of the day.”

Tune into Monday’s edition of MMAWeekly Radio to hear the full interview with UFC 153 fighter Jon Fitch.

  • how many times was the phrase: if you don’t fight, you’re not getting paid used in this article? cotdamn!

  • Timothy Malone

    Know what gets you alot of money Fitch? KO and Sub bonuses. Go for the finish!

  • chencho

    Sounds like like he’s willing to get a fight of the night bonus at the expense of getting knocked out by Silva

  • Stefano ‘Zwonimir’ Sega Nogaro

    not true … it depends, in my country if I have a regular contract with the company and I’m sick or I take vacations I get paid with the usual salary …
    also in a lot of team sports players sign contracts of several years and during those years they’re regulary paid even they’re injured.

    • Cotton_Hill

      Like any non union, non CEO/CFO etc type job in the USA.

  • drkdisciple

    Love it when they come up with excuses. Fitch lost to Hendricks because he was hurt. Was he also hurt for everyone of those long boring decisions he won?

    • Bobjitsu

      They are agreeing with him that mentally he lost the fight before he even weighed in. Like Mr. Science said, the besides Hendricks, Fitch had only one loss. Nobody could even decision him. Don’t get mad because no one is making excuses why you can’t finish these guys either.

  • stevemcz11

    Am I the only one expecting Fitch to win this one?

    • Nobama

      nope i think he will end up with a decision.

  • People act like Fitch doesn’t try to finish fights. He’s been fighting some real tough guys. C’mon when’s the last time BJ Penn, GSP or Thaigo Alves (besides Kampmann recently) were finished.Hes an incredible wrestler, you can’t blame him for using his strength to control the fight and not take damage. Not every fighter wants to stand and bang and take shots. If he wins, he wins; I don’t want to see him come out with a different game plan to please anyone. Yes being a fan favorite will get him money and bigger shots but at the end of the day he still has an incredible record in the UFC whether you like how we he fights or not. Interesting fight though. Silva is a tough dude.

    • dj

      What about all the other guys he couldnt finish?

      • He’s fighting some of the top professional mma fighters in the world. You can’t expect a guy to just finish fights. In all due fairness, he was never finished either (other then Johnny Hendricks)

    • He can get some submission finishes, but when he does they are workmanlike, he pounds on people a lot before catching them. He isn’t sneaky like Aoki and doesn’t explode into submissions like Brandao or Palhares.
      He just focuses on positions and holding them. He doesn’t want to lose position for something he isn’t sure he can get.
      As far as KO of the night… He doesn’t have that kind of power.

  • supercat

    I fought for the money once, when I shouldn’t have been in there in the first place, and it took me 2 years to heal from what happened. My only loss

    I think the people knocking Fitch are clueless, and have no idea what that feels like. The fear and the slow misery of it, how it hurts your pride

    John Fitch has always been a great fighter. I do not hold the Hendricks fight against him as much as some here and wish him nothing but success

  • Fighters_Fury

    If only there was a “Decision of the Night” bonus. Fitch would be a millionaire!

  • macgrubber

    “we get paid ok money”
    ok money? fitch gets paid more than i do with a 4 yr degree and he complains about money? guy is a joke

    • guest

      fitch has made, lifetime: 898,000 and that’s it: his agent – 20%, trainers/AKA – approx15%, taxes – I’ll guess extremely low – 8%, fight expenses (UFC only pays for 2 plan tickets and 1 hotel room – hardly enough for a fighter and the support team needed to prepare that last week and corner – they pay zero living expenses during fight week such as gas; food; rental cars; taxes; etc for entire fighter team comes out of fighter’s pocket) – easily 18 – 20%, this does not include supplements, gear, etc
      add to that the fact that the ufc does not provide health insurance, only injury insurance for injuries occurring in training camp or during the fight (something that didn’t exist for most of fitch’s career – previously only injuries sustained during a fight were covered meaning he had to cover all his fight/camp related injuries out of pocket for the majority of his career) – to this day zuffa provides zero medical for family, sickness or any injuries incurred outside of the cage/training camp – this comes out of Fitch’s pocket as well
      we haven’t talked about regular living expenses: mortgage, car payments, supplemental insurance on top of medical (car, house, etc), food, etc and you can see how he’d be broke – the expense involved in training, conditioning and just plain healing pro athletes is insane and zuffa doesn’t cover any of it unlike every other sport, boxing including – these guys don’t make a lot of money for what they pay out

      • demetrious87

        then tell fitch he should have whent to school and got a desk job that would have been more exciting than most of his fights

        • John Bunch

          Somebody takes the time to break it all down for you, and that’s your response? He did go to school, btw….just didn’t take the desk job. Man…some people are hard to comprehend…hope you’re much more entertaining with your friends than you are with your posts. Thanks to the “guest” for dropping some knowledge on ignorant people like myself…and quite a few other posters here.

      • drkdisciple

        When fighting in a main event or co-main event a fighter is given a % of the pay per view buys the ufc never announces what the amount is. You did not take that into account in your detailed calculation. Furthermore how many people make a million dollars before they turn 35 years old? If Fitch cant make ends meet then all the other fighters that never made it to headline a show must be living under the poverty line.

      • A-fucking-men dude.

      • macgrubber

        if you want some1 to read your post dont post a novel it looks like all garbage to me. All im saying is he makes more in 1 fight than i do in a yr (im an engineer) and no1 forced him to buy 2 houses or knock his wife up so no pity for him.

    • You don’t get smashed and injured, possibility sustaining crippling injuries or concussions that will shorten you life, at you 4 yr degree job, macgrubber. You also don’t get scrubs talking shit about your performance OTI

      • macgrubber

        concussions shorten lives? Where did you get ur PHD sir? and scrubs wouldnt talk shit about his performance if it didnt suck so bad.

  • Mark

    Wow, now I don’t like him even more. Silva is going to run over him. Silva is way too athletic and skilled and won’t let Fitch dry hump him the whole fight like he usually does.

  • Baby Silva The Great

    i have nothing against fitch i just really hope erick puts him away nothing personal just tired of seeing fitch lay on his opponents for 15 mins but i cant deny it its very effective to win a fight i want erick to get to title contender status

  • Raymond Gonzalez

    It’s easy to talk about people through a computer. You don’t know what it’s like to be a fighter and you never will have the balls to ever find out. To quote the great Sean Sherk (another boring wrestler) “SHUT UP AND DRINK YOUR BEER!”

  • guest

    Dudes a boring ass fighter crying about$!
    He’s made well over a million dollars in his career, he should not have a mortgage let alone 2, he should have investments, not his money sitting in a bank account gaining .01% interest.

  • It makes sense Fitch would get injured. He’s a great guy, but he doesn’t have natural power or talent with the ground game. He just busts his ass in the gym and outworks almost everyone out there. I think he just got caught against Hendricks, and GSP had Fitch’s work ethnic combined with sick amount of natural athleticism and talent.