Sean McCorkle's UFC career fits a somewhat standard UFC model. He was able to manage a win over Mark Hunt in his promotional debut, dropped back-to-back fights to Stefan Struve and Christian Morecraft and was released. He fits comfortably into that mid-tier fighter who couldn't quite make it in the UFC. In other words, he is very similar to the fighters in the range that the recent ESPN "Outside the Lines" feature focused on in terms of potentially being underpaid.
McCorkle hit up The Underground to defend the UFC's pay structure and to give some details about how he was paid during his time in the promotion:
During my 3 fight stint with the UFC the paid me exactly 150% what they were contractually obligated to pay me. That is without a KO/Sub/Fight of the night bonus of any kind. That is even though I lost 2 of my 3 fights.
I got a discretionary bonus after all 3 of my fights, even an amount equal to my what would have been my win bonus after my embarrassing performance against Stephan Struve. I was told that was given to me based strictly on the effort I put in to promoting the fight, and not because of how I performed.
I am currently unaware of any pro sports franchise that pays any player more money than they are obligated to do so.
Sponsorship wise during those 3 fights I made an average each fight of about 75% of what I was contracted to be paid by the UFC. So if my purse for fighting was $10,000 I made approximately $7,500 in sponsors on average.
Take an average fighter's reported pay for a televised fight, and double it, and you'll have a rough number of the amount he made on that fight. So if a guy is reported at $12,000 to show, and $12,000 to win, chances are he'll make around $50,000 by the time it's all said and done for that fight.
There's plenty more in his full post there, but it's good information to have.
As I mentioned during the Lorenzo vs. Friday Night Fights post, I have no problem with the way the UFC actually pays fighters other than that I don't like the bottom pay guys making only a disclosed $6k if they lose. I'd rather see something closer to a $10,000 to show/$3,000 to win structure for the bottom end. Enough to help offset camp costs, have a bit of money left over and still have a bonus for winning the fight.
But that's a relatively minor concern and, as long as the pay doesn't remain stagnant over the next few years as the promotion grows with the Fox involvement, it's pretty fair.