Earlier this week Bloody Elbow related a tweet from UFC middleweight Bubba McDaniel that revealed his salary since becoming a UFC fighter. According to McDaniel's tweet he made $33,200 during his 2013 year as an independent contractor under the umbrella of the biggest promotion in the sport.
Reactions to McDaniel's tweet ranged from critiques of fighter pay at the highest level of the sport to justifications of his income. In his most recent edition of his Chat Wrappers series, MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas addressed this discussion. Luke is a current editor emeritus of Bloody Elbow and a former writer and editor. His response was directed specifically at the comments he saw on the site:
(Bubba McDaniels said) he made about 32 grand las year and there are people in the (Bloody Elbow) comments who are justifying that. Reading those comments was sickening. I literally got sick to my stomach. People saying "Oh, that's about right. After taxes about $20K? That's about right." People are like, "Bubba McDaniels is not very good." Bubba McDaniels is very good and here's how you know he's very good. This is why people just have no appreciate for what the hell they're looking at. You take the number of athletes competing in MMA worldwide. That's from the pro ranks and you look at how many have a win in The Ultimate Fight Championship. He is, relative to the general population of competitors is very elite. Now, is he "Jose Aldo elite"? No. Is he even "Roy Nelson elite"? No, he's not that either.
The question is not is he one of the better fighters in the world from a top 10, top 15 standpoint. The question is what bracket of competition is he currently in. And the answer is "the highest level." It's the Highest level of the game.
It was appaling to me, unbelievably appaling to read some of those comments being like, "I'm a waiter and I only make $60-$70 a shift." Dude, you're not a waiter at a Michelin restaurant. You could be the worst effing waiter at a three star, even a two star Michelin restaurant and you're still and you're going to make a lot more than $60-$70 a shift.
The dudes there who are waiting tables do not complain about their money, because that's the highest level. They're not the best waiter in the game, they're not the top 10 waiter even at their freaking own restaraunt. But, if you are working at a place like that there is a natural order of business such that you have the ability to make enough money to reflect your talent. And I think there's some disparity there in MMA. Not just in the UFC but in Bellator, too.
Check out the whole video where he expands more on fighter pay and what it means to be a part of the highest level of an industry.