Fighter Pay: The Role of the UFC Brand

Fronted by Luke Thomas.

Over at MMA Payout, Kelsey Philpott expresses an interesting point.  The UFC, contrary the beliefs of many, may actually push fighter salaries higher.  Here's an excerpt:

Furthermore, as the industry leader, the UFC is helping to open doors for its fighters in terms of opportunities with other promotions and independent marketing or merchandising deals. Just ask UFC veterans how valuable it is to be associated with the UFC name and brand.

Whether it’s bigger upstarts like Affliction or smaller shows in every region of North America, promoters realize the value of the UFC brand - using former UFC veterans gives their show instant credibility. As a result, you’ve got some big shows paying fighters 4-5 times what they’re really worth just to draw. You’ve also got less-well-known fighters that are able to headline smaller shows and rake in extra cash simply because they once fought in the UFC.

Opponents of the UFC's compensation practices often focus on the relatively low figures lesser known fighters are paid.  Think about what UFC experience does for a fighter's profile.  Generally, politicians don't make huge salaries relative to upper level executives in the private sector.  When they do leave government, however,  they're often able to obtain high paying positions due to their experience in government. 

It's kind of like legitimacy by association.  A fighter may be relatively unknown.  The promotion he's fighting for may not be well known.  If this fighter once fought for the UFC (a known quantity), legitimacy has instantly been introduced into the equation.  Consumers are generally more comfortable with people and things they are familiar with.  Why do people buy name brand products (i.e. Pepsi, Tide, Polo) when, in some cases, generic products provide similar quality at a lesser price?  The name brand product is proven.

Tito Ortiz's contract with Affliction is, no doubt, very lucrative.  Could he have gotten a blockbuster deal without formerly being with the UFC?  It's doubtful.   I imagine the fact that Ortiz was once a champion in the UFC will be mentioned a few times during the lead-up to his first match.  Ortiz's link to MMA's dominant promotion has paid, and will continue to pay dividends.  He may no longer be one of the UFC's contracted fighters, but he will continue to reap many of the benefits.

Sometimes a fighter's pay involves more than just what he or she receives for a given fight.  It even goes beyond what extra, undocumented compensation may have been added.  The ability to earn money over the entirety of one's career, whether its fighting with another organization or doing something outside of fighting, should be taken into consideration.  This ability, on balance, is greatly enhanced by fighting in the UFC.


Update:  As most reading this probably know,  Tito Ortiz does not officially have a contract with Affliction, contrary to earlier reports.  I didn't want anyone to think I was trying to mislead them.  Maybe Tito can sign a deal soon, so I won't continue to look like a total ass.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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