Fighter pay has always been a hot topic in MMA, particularly in the UFC. Many of the organization’s big names have some gripes about it, while some are completely fine with what they’re being compensated for.
A few of them are right in the middle, like women’s bantamweight contender Julia Avila, for example. In a series of tweets she posted before UFC 278, the 34-year-old had this to say.
Often times you have to choose between having a career, being in a relationship, being a mother, OR follow your dreams to being in the best fight circuit ever. Even then, sometimes you just don’t feel appreciated (as a woman) because you don’t show skin or talk trash— Julia Avila (@RagingPandaMMA) August 18, 2022
I love being in the UFC. I love fighting for the fans and putting on a show, but it’s a dog and pony show. I’m just as replaceable as anyone else on the roster and fans will be none the wiser. That’s the hardest pill to swallow.— Julia Avila (@RagingPandaMMA) August 18, 2022
Avila’s tweets may come off as another fighter pay complaint. But in a separate conversation with MMA Fighting, she clarified that it wasn’t.
“I feel like a lot of people took it out of context. I don’t have any issues at all with fighter pay,” she said. “I get paid great and I think it’s very fair what they do to earn your keep. If you win, you get a win bonus.
“It’s like any industry: If you perform well, you get a bonus and you continue to progress. If you’re static, or you’re just getting by, or you’re losing, there’s no incentive to get better. If everyone’s the same, there’s no incentive to get better.”
No system is, after all, perfect. And for Avila, there is definitely some room for improvement in terms of how the UFC runs things.
“I love the UFC, but I know they can do more,” she explained. “If we had insurance year-round, that would be great.
“But I think having an incentive program where there would be online business learning, where you can learn about business management, or physical education or something, and then afterwards, you’re committed to working for that company for x amount of years to pay off learning.
“For example, the UFC gyms: If there was a business management program that the company offers, you’d have to maintain a certain GPA, and then after we’re done fighting, we’d be committed to working for one to two years at a UFC Gym, that’s amazing.”
Avila, who is due to have a baby in October, feels now’s the time to voice out her sentiments.
“It’s been terrifying because there have been so many people that have been outspoken about it that have just been negative about it, or just want to get paid more,” she explained. “There’s a lot of things that get lost in translation so anytime I say anything it’s, ‘She’s complaining about fighter pay, maybe you shouldn’t have been fighting,’ but they’re missing the point.
“I haven’t spoken out in the past because I had a lot to lose; at this point, what do I have to lose? I’m already sidelined, I can’t fight until late winter, early spring if everything goes well, I have three fights left on my contract and that’s all subject to what they see in me. I might as well speak up now.”
Avila (9-2, 3-1 in the UFC) last saw action in June 2021 against Julija Stoliarenko. She won via third-round submission.