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Ivan Salaverry rips the UFC's pay scale and pro wreslting business model

It looks like another top fighter is getting tired of the UFC’s pro-wrestling style management and low ay scale. MMA Ring Report has a two-part interview with Ivan Salaverry. Check out just some of what Slaverry had to say in part one:

    MMARR: You mentioned the UFC, one of the things that they have done first of all recently is bring in the T.V show the Ultimate fighter that is now shown on Spike TV as well as the ultimate fight nights which are the free live events on spike TV. What are your thoughts on that and do you think that these kinds of things are really helping the sport? What do you think about the reality T.V. what are your thoughts on that?

    IS: Do you want to hear my version of it and what it is truly like or do you want to hear the politically correct version?

    MMARR: I want to hear your version; I don’t want to hear anything correct.

    IS: Ok this is how I think of it, it is wonderful to have free T.V and all of America watching, I would like to see no holds barred on CBS, NBC, ABC on primetime like any baseball, football or basketball game. That is how I think the sport should be, I think it should be a nationalized past time. On the other hand when you look at the UFC, how it is producing this show, I think it wants to create it’s own champion, it wants to create it’s own identity as a sport and the only one that can identify with the sport is the UFC. That is how I think they are trying to portray the sport and it isn’t like that. They are tying these young guys into these hundred thousand dollar six figure deals with ten fights in them, if you calculate that out it is minimal money! You can’t renegotiate your contract out. There is a lot of little things that are out there but you know what? This is part of the process that is going on with the sport. The beginning of baseball, the beginning of basketball, the beginning of football, before they were unionized or had an association that could benefit the fighters, there have been situations where it seems like the companies are looking out for you, but it really isn’t.

    MMARR: I see, you mention unions and stuff like that, and people looking out for you but really not, do you think that the natural progression will eventually see insurance and a players union, and…

    IS: Absolutely, medical insurance, pension, all that, right now the organizations are making a lot a lot of money off of these fighters, if you calculate it out it is not paying off a lot. It might seem like it is paying off a lot, and what they portray out there it seems like they pay a lot, but in comparison to what these fighters are bringing up… Look at our marquee fighters, they are not getting paid in comparison to boxing money, not even close! Rich Franklin our middleweight champion in the UFC got paid 36 000 dollars bro. Calculate that out for any minimal middleweight champion boxer out there, what he is getting paid for his third title defense?

When you consider the tens of millions of dollars the UFC is earning from its PPV events and the fact that new promotions are competing to sign top fighters, it seems inevitable that the UFC will be forced to raise its pay scale (especially since it has such an ambitious schedule for 2007).

Be sure to check out the rest of the interview here.

Update 7/17: In a related note, Ivan Trembow of MMA Weekly has just written a breakdown of the UFC’s 2006 fighter salaries. tags: , , , , ,

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6 Responses

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  1. Chris said


    If the fighters aren’t even getting health insurance in thier contracts, then yeah, that’s craziness.

    Competition is good in almost all circumstances. The best thing that could happen for the fighters is for Pride to get a foothold in the US; to get some competition between the two organizations. Let them try to outbid each other for the best fighters. Then the salaries will rise.

  2. Bravo to Ivan. This union man supports the fighters having one, too.

  3. While Ivan makes some good points, his numbers are off by a bit. He said the TUF contract is a hundred thousand dollar contract with 10 fights. If we are including the finale as part of that, it is ten fights, but the minumun is 158K with a max of 306K.
    Is Mr. Salaverry’s WFA contract paying him more than that? If a fighter is established, that might not be great money, but for an unknown, not too bad.
    I hope we do come to the day when all fighters are making at least 10k per fight, but that time is not now.
    I have not heard that the WFA is offering year round health insurance. All orgs must cover medical for anything that happens during the fight, but only the IFL is paying regular insurance.

    At a time when we are seeing UFC headliners picking up a percentage of the ppv, his comments regarding headliners are a bit silly. By most accounts, Couture, Liddell, Gracie, Hughes, Ortiz and Shamrock will all end up making over 1 million for thier most recent fights in the UFC. Does De La Hoya make more? Absolutely, but those numbers are new highs, at least in the U.S.

    I am a fan of Mr. Salaverry, but his comments seem a bit skewered. He wants to make comparisons to boxing, but show me a boxer that has his insurance paid for, or has a pension. Is Larry Holmes living off of his boxing pension?

    Combat sports are totally different from Basketball, Football or the other league sports. If the IFL makes it, perhaps we will see some of those changes. I can’t help but notice that Mr. Salaverry chose to sign with the WFA rather than the one org that pays a regular salary and offers health insurance.

  4. There will unlikely be a union for fighters in MMA, just like there isn’t a union (and never will be) in pro-wrestling.

    And I don’t expect insurance for UFC fighters any time soon, either. If Lloyds of London backed out of insuring WWE wrestlers, who will insure MMA fighters?

  5. Call me crazy, but I think just mentioning the word “union” would be frowned upon very heavily…

  6. Zach: There is a big difference between insuring WWE fighters and UFC fighters. WWE fighters perform stunts 200 days a year and can suffer very large injuries. For the most part, UFC injuries are small (broken hand, foot, etc).