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Despite having a name that frustrates me (why is there an “M” before the g?? Why isn’t it an “N”? How do I pronounce that??) Oluwale Bamgbose has become a fighter I greatly appreciate. Anyone who reads this column regularly should know that the UFC paying their fighters shit wages is one of the issues I’m most angered by, most frequently.
In a sense, the UFC is a perfect embodiment of our current system of third wave capitalism: a huge monopolistic corporation, in heavy debt due to being bought out by private equity with no care for the long-term health of the sport. Their previous owners didn’t care either, because they knew they were getting out. Everything else is a symptom of this short-term vision: shrinking audience, skeletal staff at UFC HQ, the devaluing of title belts through endless interim title fights, champions sensing this and begging for “superfights”, money fights, and boxing matches; over-reliance on the lucky emergence of a couple superstars who masked the overall trends, the destructive Reebok deal, and the loss of long-term fans. These fans sense the soul of the sport they came to love has long since died, and it’s remnants are being sucked out piecemeal, for as many dollars as the absentee owners can wring.
Chief among these ills is the long-standing issue of fighter pay: professional athletes are independent contractors who are doled out the very least the UFC can afford, somewhere in the region of 15% of gross revenue. For comparison, sports with unions, like basketball and football, see their athletes get paid 50% of gross revenue to take their long-term brain damage. There is no collective bargaining. The UFC takes advantage of the fact that fighters, like many of us in our respective lives, are often insanely over-optimistic about their chances of making it to the coveted belt. Of the hundreds on the roster, only a few will ever even fight for a belt, much less win one.
There is a silver lining. When I spoke to Jon Fitch about the ongoing anti-trust lawsuit against the UFC, he said a potential payout would benefit all fighters who have fought for the UFC since 2012. The Muhammad Ali Expansion Act is gaining more cosponsors by the year, which could very well result in legal challenges to the UFC’s system. The very fact that the UFC was sold for over 4.2 billion dollars, yet the fighters remain mired in 10K/show 10K/win contracts has opened a lot of eyes. Bellator is a distant second to the UFC in terms of market share, but some fighters have successfully moved there to make a living; or, in Ben Askren’s case, to ONE FC. Local organizations like Cage Warriors and Rizin are not the big show, but for some athletes they are a viable way to get paid.
But back to Bamgbose. He is fed up with the way the UFC treated him, and gave the middle finger to his boss on the way out the door. To be clear, he was cut, but he is evidently happy to go. He fought injured in his last fight and turned in a poor performance, which led to a lot of fan criticism. That’s another constant feature of the modern world: because many of us aren’t able to live the lives we wish, we respond by allying with the billionaire owners of capital instead of the exploited underdog. By pretending we are the real owners, we live our aspirations vicariously online through our partisanship. We are like Dana White, bosses in our own right, never mind that most of us will never set foot on a private yacht or jet, much less own four of them. This is enhanced by the idiosyncratic exposure MMA fighters have to us, the fans: they get a LOT of personal hate online for any poor performance, from people they would destroy on the street. (Don’t get me wrong, I criticize fighters plenty. That’s my prerogative as a fan. I just never tag them in my tweets. They don’t, and shouldn’t, care what I think.)
So its official I am no longer apart of the @ufc organization. Not gonna lie, I fell out of love for it for obvious reasons. One being a target of unfair treatment multiple times & 2nd the organization not taking care of its fighters financially. @danawhite FUCK U! #MmaComeBack— Oluwale♚Bamgbose (@HolyWarAngelMMA) December 27, 2017
Bamgbose laid out the long-term issues with low fighter pay: It erodes the fighters’ ability and desire to compete when they aren’t meeting basic needs. Paying fighters pauper wages inconsistent with their standing as professional athletes is fundamentally a strategy to enhance short-term profit, not long-term growth.
Rich maybe, super well off to be able to at least put a down payment on a house YES. People betting on my fights or ufc fights in general made more money than me. Thats pretty pathetic. Many other reasons caused my decrease in motivation to overall perform too #HighRiskLowReward https://t.co/XaAbBscduJ— Oluwale♚Bamgbose (@HolyWarAngelMMA) December 28, 2017
If u couldnt tell, I DID NOT WANT TO FIGHT THAT NIGHT. The 1punch I threw almost took out his eye. I wasnt happy fighting for the ufc& it reflected in my performance. I lost my love for the sport &was willing to coast my way to a shitty win. Im glad im cut people & I will move on https://t.co/6uTXIYrSHX— Oluwale♚Bamgbose (@HolyWarAngelMMA) December 28, 2017
Not arguing that! Making it to the ufc for me meant the nfl, nba, mlb or nfl of mma. I wish I knew. Dont be fooled mma fighters out there. If u are struggling & see the ufc as a means to help that, it probably wont happen after 10 fights. So prepare to fight under such conditions https://t.co/gQflVvn2fy— Oluwale♚Bamgbose (@HolyWarAngelMMA) December 28, 2017
And to the endless stream of fans who had something negative to say:
For u fans who have something negative to say, who wouldnt last a second in my shoes SHUT THE FUCK UP! My block game strong& ur opinion doesnt matter to me bc u cant judge a life uve never lived. I'd rather hear it from my colleagues than u scum bag low life idiots. Fuck the @ufc— Oluwale♚Bamgbose (@HolyWarAngelMMA) December 27, 2017
The ufc isnt the end all be all to mma or combat sports. Like I said, I will regain my strength & fire & I will return again. God willing I will be in a much better position prior to my return to the fight game. No hard feelings over here, those fuck yous were just long over due!— Oluwale♚Bamgbose (@HolyWarAngelMMA) December 27, 2017
Other fighters responded with hope and solidarity:
Hope you can keep your head up through all this. You have tons of fans like me that love watching you fight and if you’re still passionate I hope to see you prosper in another organization! @HolyWarAngelMMA https://t.co/2JEwKz03dr— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) December 27, 2017
Gerald Harris echoed Bamgbose’s thoughts:
& if it wasn’t for the fighters the organization wouldn’t be shit. Imagine if everyone packed up and went to Bellator? We aren’t race horses we are human beings with families and responsibilities.— Gerald Harris (@GHurricane) December 27, 2017
Does fighter pay matter to you?
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I don’t really care either way
This is an important thing we missed...
Speaking of things that come out months later...
It's literally in a pile of trash next to a garbage can pic.twitter.com/DOd8k9TsPe— Danny Austin (@DannyAustin_9) December 28, 2017
Whoever was running the UFC account didn’t actually read Angela’s tweet:
Guess who’s heading to Vegas for #UFC219! Should be getting in Friday, anything cool going on?— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) December 27, 2017
Cormier sweats like a... I never have a good analogy for someone who sweats a lot. Like the Atlantic Ocean.
Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath should be a great fight:
Belal Muhammad responded to James Vick’s “I wanted that fight” tweet with an “I wanted that fight too so let’s fight instead” tweet.
And I offered to fight Yancy Smh but if you want to throw hands at welterweight in Texas I’ll be your huckleberry https://t.co/S47ZjmFIwe— Belal muhammad (@bullyb170) December 27, 2017
So this is an interesting training tool
Reflejos y esquivas, ejercicio de buenos movimientos. pic.twitter.com/Mks2C1R2w8— Fighters Magazine (@FightersMagz) December 27, 2017
Kamaru Usman is training his wrestling with Bellator lightweight Michael Chandler
Paddy Pimblett called out the ACB League for being used as a tool to promote dictator Ramzan Kadyrov:
Cause cage warriors is a legit business man, can’t be paying there fighters in cash stashed in between there tickets I don’t fancy gettin paid in war crime doe me so we make sure it on @CageWarriors https://t.co/bpFXPdjtjz— Paddy Pimblett (@PaddyTheBaddy) December 26, 2017
Good Reads and Quick Hits:
- Jessica Andrade is fighting Tecia Torres, not Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
- Tonya Evinger is coming back to fight Marion Reneau
- This might get interesting: Volkan Oezdemir has very little time between his felony arraignment and his UFC 220 title fight with Daniel Cormier
Podcasts and Video
Holly Holm’s left high kick explained! Follow MMA Mania on Youtube for more
The Promotional Malpractice Live Chat:
Best of the MMA Hour 2017: