Recently, more and more former UFC Fighters are coming forward complaining about the fighter pay they received while fighting for the top MMA promotion in the world. I reached out to some fighters asking them to speak on fighter pay and did not get the best responses, until Sunday night. I was on Twitter doing my usual Sunday night routine, uploading pictures of my pugs and sending love tweets to Miley Cyrus, when I came across a little war of words between Ken Shamrock, Dana White, and the always outspoken Jacob Volkmann. They were going back and forth on fighter pay, ultimately ending with Dana White wishing Volkmann the best of luck, but it was a very interesting argument. Should there be a Fighters Union? Should the undercard fighters get more pay?
I reached out to Jacob Volkmann to see if he would be willing to give me some insight on the hot topic of UFC fighter pay; he was more than willing. Volkmann now fights for the World Series Of Fighting, an organization he feels will benefit his career more in the long run than the UFC would. I spoke to Mr. Volkmann by telephone on Monday night to see what he thinks would help fighters careers.
Volkmann shared with me that he thought making fighter pay more like a salary pay would benefit a fighter’s career. He feels fighters should be offered their usual four to five fight contract but be guaranteed at least two fights a year or get paid for their second fight if for some reason the fighter was unable to fight twice in a year. The contract also states that at no matter what time of your contract if you lose you can be cut from the UFC with no explanation. Volkmann would like fighters to have a more secure income coming in rather than not getting paid unless they fight. He brought up a good point stating that fighters in the UFC dedicate their whole lives to being a UFC fighter, they have to. They are training to fight the best fighters in the world. If training isn’t your full time job as a fighter you will fall behind. A lot of guys with higher pay, who are ultimately the ones you have to beat to make the money, they make train up to three times a day six days a week. Training is their job; there is no time for a full time job to provide for yourself or your family, and the money you receive from fighting does not all go to the fighter. You have to consider training, traveling, gear, cornermen, taxes, and other expenses.
Volkmann made 100K in one year with the UFC, which sounds like more than enough to live off of; until you break it down. He paid almost 10K in taxes that year not to mention had around 50K he paid for all his training expenses; that left Volkmann with around 40K for the year. With a wife and three kids that is barely above poverty. Volkmann even chose to take out his own insurance over the UFC’s insurance because he felt his was better. The UFC’s insurance only covers the fighter and not his family. There is a $1,500 deductible per injury, and the insurance will do whatever they can to not have to pay for an injury by saying it was a previous injury; meaning they will not pay to fix it.
Now, some may think Jacob Volkmann may just be a little upset that he was cut from the UFC and that is why he is making these comments now, but Volkmann has said in the past when he was still signed with the UFC that there should be some kind of retirement plan for fighters, which according to him did not go over too well with Dana White and the UFC. He feels that may have played a little part in why he was cut after posting a 6-2 record for the organization. “Maybe they didn’t want somebody putting ideas in other fighters heads.” Volkmann even claimed that after his last loss in the UFC to Bobby Green, that Dana White came to his locker room after the fight and told him how badass he did and that it was Fight of The Night. He wasn’t awarded the bonus and was then cut shortly after; no reason other than there was too many fighters on the roster.
Volkmann would hope for there to be a Fighter’s Union someday, but feels there will not be enough fighters willing to come forward and give a company like the UFC an ultimatum. Volkmann plans to do whatever is needed to expose the UFC and their fighter pay; this could be the beginning of something that could definitely change the sport, or just more complaints being swept underneath the rug.
I do not know too much about the professional fighter lifestyle, but would not be against a Union to protect fighters who are putting their lives on the line to pay the bills.
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