If UFC actually paid its fighters a respectable wage, or at least a purse that was commensurate with the promotion’s gross annual revenue, then reigning champions like Francis Ngannou wouldn’t be so butthurt about the success of prize-fighting celebrities.
That’s according to former lightweight champion Sean Sherk, who like many of today’s critics doesn’t seem to understand that popularity is more profitable than talent.
“I think the UFC should be extremely embarrassed by the fact that their former champions and top ranked fighters have to go fight YouTube stars with barely any fighting experience and make 10 times more money than they do in the UFC,” Sherk wrote on Facebook. “I’ve been retired for 10 years and nothing has changed in that organization. UFC fighters are still the worst paid athletes on the biggest stage. Believe me I have my stories too.”
Sherk is likely referring to this upcoming boxing match.
UFC fighters are underpaid because the business model is such that UFC as a brand is positioned as the star, not the actual fighters, with the rare exceptions of breakout talent like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, who rose above the UFC name to create their own sustainable labels.
Sherk, 47, retired from UFC back in late 2010. “The Muscle Shark” was paid just $35,000 for his UFC 84 title fight against BJ Penn, compared to $250,000 for “The Prodigy,” in case you were wondering why Sherk is still salty.