UFC fighter Luke Barnatt has become quite the businessman. The undefeated British middleweight shed some light on his stance on fighter's pay, his business-like approach to fighting, as well as a variety of non-fighting related avenues for pay that he has taken advantage of since joining the UFC.
While Barnatt has developed himself into a world-class MMA fighter over the past few years, his original intentions were to simply "make money," which led him to become an accounting executive in London.
"Growing up as a kid I had big dreams just as every young man does." Barnatt told WHOATV. "I wanted to be a millionaire. I wanted to drive a Ferrari. I wanted the big house and have the big-boobed girls walking around in my back garden. I wanted that lifestyle;That is what I wanted. So I wanted to go work in the city; work in London. I was an accounting executive for a PR promotions company and I was working with some big accounts and was trying to build a career and make money. That is what I wanted to do."
Once Barnatt discovered MMA he immediately shifted his life ambitions, surrendering his stable income for a life inside a gym. He would eventually work his way into the UFC, where he believes he now has the platform necessary to make a comfortable living and to also do what he loves.
"My life changed when I found MMA. I started doing Mixed Martial Arts and my perspective changed. All I thought about was MMA and competing. Money didn't matter to me. I gave up everything to do MMA. I gave up all the money I had, lived in the gym and trained all the time. It got me to this point where I am today and now I can merge those two things together. The UFC has given me the platform and the opportunity to make good money and do what I love - the perfect situation."
"Bigslow" would go on to explain his understanding of what it means to be a fighters, stating that he treated his career as if it were a business he owned. He treated his training like work, set short-term and long-term targets for himself and operated as if he was a business attempting to stay afloat.
"Fighting is one of those things I treat like a business. I treat my training like work. It is a job. I get to do what I love and I get to do it for a living. I love going to training but I still have to be there at a certain time and still have to organize myself. I set goals for myself. I set goals for my camps. I'm always hitting targets. That is how I look at a business. Businesses have to hit targets. They have to stay on track. That is how I see my UFC career. I'm really trying to run it like a business."
The 25-year-old also gave his thoughts on the current state of fighter's pay and whether it is a justified issue within the organization. Barnatt suggested that the UFC's "handsomely" paid its fighters and issues such as sponsorships were not the organization's problem.
While he is 3-0 inside the octagon, with finishes in his last two outings, he still considers himself to be at the "lowest end of the scale," yet believes the organization is paying him "well enough" for his efforts.
"If you are in the UFC and you are complaining about money, go to another organization and fight for pennies. The UFC pay us handsomely for what we do. I turn up to compete, maybe two-three days a year, and I get paid very well for what I do. A guy like Dana White has come out publicly and said that sponsorship is not his problem, and its not his problem. He pays us well enough. I thought that and I am in the lowest end of the scale getting paid."
Barnatt also mentioned that it was up to the competitors to seek alternative pay outside of fighting in the octagon.
"Three days out of the year you compete, what do you do with yourself for the other 362? Do you just sit on your arse or go to training? You have been given the best platform to go out and earn money. You are a professional athlete in the best mixed martial arts organization in the world. You are a world class athlete and you have to sell that to other people to make money."
Ultimately, Barnatt is confident in his ability to generate a stable income outside of fighting, boldly stating that he believes he makes more money in public appearances and sponsorships than "80% of the UFC."
"I truly believe - in sponsors and public appearances - I probably make more money right now as a guy who has been in the UFC for only a year, than probably 80% of the UFC, because I am putting myself out there. I'm working. Because you are in the UFC, money doesn't just come to you. You still have to go out there and get it and I think a lot of people struggle with that.
I believe there is so much money to gain from being in the UFC outside of fighting. You should earn more money outside of the octagon than you do in it. That is my belief and that is what I am doing."