With all the chatter going on about fighter pay, especially with a notable main card fighter coming forward to state that he was having financial difficulties, to the point of it being a hardship to meet his mortgage obligation, I wondered if I would be hard pressed to find undercard fighters that were actually satisfied with the UFC's pay scale. Undercard fighters bear the responsibility of opening up an event card, and help set the tone for fan appreciation of an event. Because these guys are the opening act, their purses tend to be much smaller. There is opportunity for these guys to make more money, via fight bonuses, but not all fights will end in bonus-worthy fashion.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Walel Watson, who will be facing Mitch Gagnon at UFC 152. I asked him a multitude of the standard questions about his upcoming bout, but the focus of this post is more about fighter pay. Here's what he had to say on the subject:
Stephie Daniels: With all the talk from both sides, the fighters and the UFC brass, do you feel the UFC does a good job with the pay scale for their fighters?
Walel Watson: You know, everybody can say what they want to say. They can complain about the money, but before the UFC, I was broke. I was living check to check, hand to mouth. They changed my life. I can't say nothing negative about the pay. I'm happy. I'm blessed. All I want in life is to have my bills paid, fill my refrigerator, and be able to my girlfriend and myself something nice every now and then. The UFC has opened those doors and done that for me. I'm super thankful for that. I'm honored, and I feel like I'm living the dream.
Stephie Daniels: Do you think that maybe some fighters are living beyond their mean, or aren't budgeting their money correctly?
Walel Watson: We earn it. At the end of the day, these guys are laying their bodies on the line. We're probably cutting a few years off of our lives every time we step in the octagon and take these punches, slams and submissions. Whatever we're making, I don't think anybody is really living beyond their means. They deserve it.
You can follow Walel via his Twitter, @135Gazelle