Pro-fighter Nick "The Goat" Thompson argues, quite persuasively in my view, that entry-level UFC fighter pay is actually pretty fair. Notable quote:
This is a 50% to a 250% pay raise in a little over a year. And while this pay is still low as compared to other athletes, I think the UFC should get the benefit of the doubt for at least a while longer. The UFC incurred huge losses for years and has only recently gained popular acceptance. It seems natural for the fighter pay to lag behind for a few years until the UFC has cemented themselves as a pillar of the sporting community.
There is more to understanding this issue than just glancing at the average salary of an entry level UFC fighter. First, it is not as though a first time UFC fighter is taking a pay cut.
By and large, when a fighter first goes to the UFC, a good pay day up to that point has been between $1,000 and $2,000. This is not true for every fighter, but by and large, outside of the major organizations, this is what a UFC entry level caliber fighter is worth.
Fighting for the UFC is often a significant increase in pay. Add to this the additional $2,000 to $5,000 the fighter is making off of sponsorship. Now it is a huge pay raise as compared to what they were paid before the UFC.
And the pay raise is not temporary. As soon as you fight in the UFC, your value to other shows and to sponsors increases. So not only are you getting a pay raise while fighting in the UFC, but you are getting a pay raise for every fight thereafter.
On its face this does not appear to be a bad pay day. But think about it, for the level Fitch is at, it's not all that great either. Fitch is on of the most dominant welterweights in the world and if he wins every fight this year, he will barely crack $100,000.
The worst long snapper in the NFL gets paid significantly more than this. And remember, Fitch is responsible for his own insurance, supplements, training dues, manager dues, etc.