While climbing and MMA may have some things in common, one discussion you would be hard pressed to find in the message boards like rockclimbing.com or summitpost.org are those that are frequently popping up after Mixed Martial Arts events.
Its no surprise that salaries in even the upper echelon of athletes competing in MMA pale in comparison to their big brothers in the NFL, NBA, or even its sister combat sport of Boxing. What might surprise many would be how even salaries from the undercard of a Cage Rage event dwarf that earned in one of the most competitive new outlets in the world of outdoor sports - competition climbing.
The American Bouldering Series, or ABS, is a national competition with athletes from around the world, the most prestigious of its kind in the United States. Often the winner of the series of events is considered the best of the best. One of the qualifiers happened over the last weekend, the Dark Horse Series. The payout is as follows:
- Daniel Woods – $1,500
- Vasya Vorotnikov – $750
- Brian Kim – $250
(The purse for the top 3 in the Women's bracket was identical)
Daniel Woods is arguably the most talented athlete ever seen in this sport. His strength defies physics, when he completes a hard route it is literally the hardest serious of moves the human body could be possible of doing. For this he gets $1,500.
The argument could be made that Fighters put themselves at more risk, and though that holds some water keep in mind that many climbers, to get sponsorship deals, push the limits to unrealistic limits in the outdoor arena (see Honnold, Alex, and prepare to see thy sphincter tighten).
The point of this article isn't to clamber that fighters are making too much - on the contrary, after camp, flights, managers cuts, there is not much to walk away from - but I think reducing each event to a simple narrative such as who is getting paid too little, who is over valued, who should be cut and so forth is besides the point. There are incredible athletes out there whose fans lose little sleep over whether or not they drive a good car or a great car. Perhaps I speak for myself, but I believe it is up to the fighter to secure their purse and keep their job, so that their fans can spend the fight looking forward to a great bout and not be concerned with hoping they aren't watching a "loser leaves town" match.
If you are interested in just what some of these athletes are capable check out the videos below.
The North Face®: Yosemite (Alex Honnold, Climber) (via TheNorthFaceVideo)
Dreamcatcher (via bigupproductions)