Fighter pay is something that has been debated seemingly forever, but one thing that generally flies below the radar is how UFC fighters have been suffering from lower sponsorship pay since the promotion instituted a large yearly fee on anyone that wants to sponsor UFC fighters. One fighter recently opened up about how much he makes compared to what it used to be, and it's pretty startling. That man is UFC featherweight Cole Miller, who has made 14 trips to the octagon and will return for a 15th time when he meets Andy Ogle at UFC Fight Night 30 next month.
Since Miller's fight will be aired on Facebook and not on television, he says it's extremely hard to find sponsors that are willing to pay anything. He spoke about the issue to MMA Junkie:
"It seems like everything has dried up, and the companies only want to commit to a smaller roster for their company."
"There are these companies that just straight up won't call back right after they hear that I'm on Facebook."
He said that back in the day when he was on UFC undercards (which weren't televised at all at the time), he could still get around 4000 to 5000 dollars in sponsorship money per fight. The most he ever made, in 2010, was $23,500 for one fight. But now he stated that he'll "be lucky to get $3500" for his fight against Ogle.
Despite the UFC's presence as the world's biggest MMA fight promotion, the restrictions and huge fees associated with sponsoring UFC fighters means that fighters competing in promotions that air on AXS TV are doing as well as him, or even better:
"I've got fellow fighters that are fighting on local shows that are making the same money, or more, than I am," he said.
Obviously some of it is on Miller himself - he has lost three out of his last four and that's why he's fighting on Facebook and not on TV - but it's surprising to me that there's so little out there for middle of the road guys. While Jon Jones and Georges St. Pierre are making headlines for their blue chip sponsors, the UFC has driven a lot of money away from a large chunk of their roster. That has to be very frustrating for guys that aren't making a lot to start with.