Tim Kennedy softens stance against UFC fighter pay

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview earlier this week, Kennedy took a hard stance against fighter pay at the highest level of the sport. He spoke harshly saying he could make more money "emptying garbage cans" than he does as a fighter. However, today he released a statement with a much more optimistic view.

Earlier today we reported UFC Middleweight Tim Kennedy's recent rant decrying the current state of fighter pay. He went as far as to say he could make more money as a garbage man than as a mixed martial artist. After punching the numbers, BE's Brent Brookhouse calculated that despite earning almost $235K in disclosed pay since 2011, he would only take home around $47.5K per year before taxes.

Kennedy's comments have gotten a lot of attention over the last couple days and it seems the 185er felt the need to clarify. He released this statement Thursday on his Facebook page:

I recently made comments regarding fighter pay. The intent of these statements was to highlight that professional fighters incur significant expense associated with their preparations to fight and that fighter compensation is still not on par with other major sports. While I am fortunate to have various revenue streams associated with my business interests, most fighters do not have that luxury. When you spend training camps with great guys with amazing talents and you see them barely making ends meet, while simultaneously seeing athletes in other sports with far less character and a far smaller work ethic making exponentially more, you can get frustrated.
Unfortunately, I made statements that alluded to how the UFC in particular pays its athletes. This was particularly offensive as Zuffa has taken better care of me than any other organization, even giving me a bonus for being amusing on Twitter. My choice of words was poor, not properly informed, and did not match my intent. Additionally, my comments were taken out of context. I can tell you that I have been fighting longer than most people and I remember all too well the days when there was no regulation or standard for an MMA promotion. I fought many times in Mexico where the rules were negligible, there were no physicals, and being paid was a luxury we didn’t expect. Our sport was shunned and was considered "human cockfighting". Today, we are on Fox. We have doctors and insurance. We make more money than the average American. And we get these things by playing a sport we love. The only reason this is possible is because of Zuffa. They have legitimized the sport and taken better care of the athletes than any other organization, and the trend is only improving, with athletes making three times what they made on average five years ago.
My comments were hurtful and inappropriate. I accept full responsibility for the statements and apologize to the UFC, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, & Joe Silva as well as anyone I might have offended with my comments. Fighting for the UFC is an honor and a privilege. I look forward to putting this situation behind me and focusing on my upcoming fight with Roger Gracie.

As Kennedy mentioned, he'll be fighting fellow Strikeforce veteran Roger Gracie next week at UFC 162. In his original statement he said that he stands to bring home at least $55K for the bout and $70K if he wins. Using his own figures, that means he'll actually take home either $22,550 or $28,700 after expenses are paid. Considering Kennedy is at the upper end of the UFC payscale, there's no denying he has a point about fighters relatively low pay in comparison to other major league sports.

UFC 162 will take place Saturday, July 6 in Las Vegas, NV. In the main event, Middleweight champion Anderson Silva will look to extend his title defense record to an even dozen. He'll be facing undefeated contender Chris Weidman.


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