Alves: American Top Team has become ‘so huge’ since lowering management and training fees

Photo by Esther Lin

Thiago Alves talks about the effect of American Top Team lowering the fees charged to its fighters. ‘If you've got talent, if you need a new camp, come to us, we’ll take care of you.’

UFC on FOX 11 takes place Saturday night in Orlando when heavyweight title contenders Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne will battle it out for the right to face champion Cain Velasquez in Mexico. American Top Team will be well represented with four fighters - Thiago Alves, Yoel Romero, Jorge Masvidal, and Mirsad Bektic - competing on the card.

In a recent interview with Susan Cingari of Must Love MMA, Thiago Alves gave his thoughts on why ATT seems to have a presence on so many fight cards.

In the last two years it just has become so huge since we changed the policy for management and training fees for only five percent. So if you want to have top quality training and the best management out there, we are only charging five percent instead of all the other camps out there. Usually it's 10 for management, another 10 for training.

The policy change he's referencing happened on Jan. 3, 2012. ATT lowered its management and training fees from 20 percent (10 percent each) to five percent for everything. That's a reduction of 75 percent for fighters who want management and training, and 50 percent for those who want training only. In infomercial terms it's, "Buy training for five percent and get your management for free!" However you look at it, that's a pretty steep drop in price - the kind you don't see every day.

If the fee cut really did cause ATT to get "so huge," it wouldn't be the first time we've seen fighters responding to the almighty dollar outside of everyday contract negotiations. Werdum asked the UFC to schedule this weekend's fight with Browne in the United States after getting an initial offer to fight in his home country of Brazil. He lives in Los Angeles and his newborn daughter, Joana, had something to do with wanting to fight close to home, but he also wanted to avoid Brazil's notoriously aggressive tax system.

We lose 28 percent (of the money), and we never get it back. I can't afford to lose this money. It's Joana's money, and no one will take it away from her [laughs].

Last year, after Rafael "Sapo" Natal's Fight of the Night victory over Tor Troeng in Belo Horizonte at UFC Fight Night 28, it was revealed that he originally didn't want to fight in Brazil because of the taxes.

I moved to New York five years ago, and I said to myself I'd never fight here [Brazil] again. Taxes here are terrible, man. But then the UFC called me to fight in Jaragua and I accepted. I needed to fight in Brazil at least one time. ‘Ok, I fought there and that's it'. And then they announced they'd be back to Belo Horizonte, my city, and I owed my friends a fight here.

What do you know? MMA fighters are human after all. They like paying less for things. They like paying less tax (I think Warren Buffet's the only person in the world who actually wants to pay more tax and, no, I'm not a Republican). This even applies to the UFC. Remember California Assembly Bill 2100? In addition to contractual restrictions, it would have charged promoters a tax of five percent of the gross receipts of their pay per view or network telecasts. Lorenzo Fertitta responded nicely, "...the proposed tax structure would actually result in fewer events in California," while Dana White was his usual blunt self, "If that thing passes we won't do anymore fights in California."

In the case of ATT, there are a variety of factors that influence a gym's growth or decline. No one can say for sure how the cut in fees has impacted their roster of fighters, but if Alves is correct it's fitting that it's happening in the same region where, in 2004, an altogether different price cut gave birth to our beloved $5 footlong...and the Miami Subway franchise that thought of it had lines out the door.

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