Expenses for MMA Fighters – Team Fury Blog

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Expenses for MMA Fighters – by Myles “Fury” Jury
Presented by: DeeZee

Have you ever wondered the costs for elite level athletes in the UFC?

There’s been a lot of discussions on fighters pay in the media and I wanted to shed some light on the basic expenses incurred going into each contest.

You’re running a self-employed business as an MMA fighter, where you have income from competition and expenses from training camps. Like boxing, MMA fighters receive a guaranteed purse known as the “show,” for weighing in at your contracted weight and entering the contest. With a win, you receive a win bonus that is the same amount as your purse to show.

For example, UFC’s 2015 entry pay is now $10,000 to show and $10,000 to win. Right up front, half of a fighters pay relies on whether they win or not. There are expenses such as coaching fees and gym fees, which vary from gym to gym.

Here’s an in-depth breakdown:

  • Gym Fees

Instead of paying a monthly membership fee, professional fighters gym fees are a per fight basis for a training camp. This expense covers training with the team, the facility and the guidance of the coaches. From my experience, this expense is between 5-10% of your fight purse.

So the fighter competing for 10k/10k and paying their gym 10%, would pay $2,000 with a win, or $1,000 with a loss. 

  • Management Fees

A manager controls the brokering and negotiations with each competition to get things rolling. In addition to that, their duties cover contracts, expenses, sponsors, career guidance, liaison with the fight organization, scheduling, media, medicals and assisting with the wants and needs of the fighter. The industry standard management fee is 20% of the fighter’s purse. With the 10k/10k example, the management fee would be $4,000 with a win, or $2,000 with a loss.

  • Taxes

MMA fighters are considered sub-contractors, which puts the athlete in a different position than employees of a company. Employee taxes are deducted automatically before they receive their check and a tax return each year.  It’s the exact opposite for a fighter. They receive their fight purse without the full tax deductions and pay their taxes at the end of each year. This means a MMA fighter must put money aside each fight to pay Uncle Sam or they’re going to be in debt to the government (horrible spot to be in).

30% of a fight purse is a good rule of thumb to put aside after each fight, which is $6,000 with a win, or $3,000 with a loss (using 10k/10k example).

  • Medicals

MMA fighters are responsible to pay for his or her medicals to be licensed by the governing commission each competition.  The expenses for this category consists of blood work (HIV, hepatitis b/c), physical, MRI/MRA, eye exam, and sometimes there’s more. Medicals can get pricey depending on the requirements of the governing commission and your location. From my experience they range from $500-$1,000.

  • Coaching Fees

MMA fighters need the expertise from martial arts coaches in jiu jitsu, wrestling, striking, etc. The gym fee covers your main coaching, but there’s expenses incurred for coaching at another location and/or private coaching. Each coach is different and charge anywhere from $50$-$150 an hour for private training.

A lot of teams have evolved by having all coaches needed under one roof like my team at Power MMA in Gilbert, AZ. There are a lot of fighters that spread their coaching out and the costs really start to add up. 

  • Miscellaneous 

This category consists of coach’s flights to city of fight, training partner’s flights into camp, sports massages, nutritionist, supplements, etc. From my experience, this category totals anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 on a low end per camp.

Now lets tally up the expenses from the fighter’s 10k/10k purse.

A fighter wins and earns $20,000:

  • -$2,000  (gym / team)
  • $4,000   (management)
  • $6,000   (taxes)
  • $500      (medicals)
  • $1,000   (coaching)
  • $1,000   (Misc.)

Total Expenses: $14,500

$20,000 – $14,500 = $5,500 is the fighters profit.
Additional income received without deductions except taxes:
**Reebok uniforms pay UFC fighters anywhere from $2,500-$20,000 per fight
**UFC offers discretionary bonuses based on performance (not guaranteed)

A fighter loses and earns $10,000:

  • $1,000   (team)
  • $2,000  (management)
  • $3,000  (taxes)
  • $500      (medicals)
  • $1,000   (coaching)
  • $1,000   (misc)

Total Expenses: $8,500

$10,000 – $8,500 = $1,500 would be the fighter profit, putting him in a spot of needing to fight again ASAP.
Additional income received without deductions except taxes:
**Reebok uniforms pay UFC fighters anywhere from $2,500-$20,000 per fight
**UFC offers discretionary bonuses based on performance (not guaranteed)

Now this is a hypothetical example where the numbers can vary depending on the fighter, gym and organization they’re fighting for. The upper echelon fighters making 6-7 digits per fight, are configured differently. On the regional scene where fighters are establishing themselves, it’s much more difficult as they’re fighting for a few hundred dollars.

The fighter is the product and It’s imperative for fighters to take care of their bodies and health. Health issues and injuries put a fighter in a bad spot financially. It’s just as important for fighters to be financially educated or they’ll make their life tough if they’re not.

As you should’ve noticed, a whole team loses when their fighter loses. Not only emotionally and physically, but financially as well.

Anyone that thinks this is an easy business for a fighter is sadly mistaken. As you can see from the breakdown above, there are a lot of expenses that go into a high level training camp. Although there’s a lot of money to be made in the sport of MMA, there are a lot of expenses just like most businesses.  

In an upcoming blog, I’ll touch on the importance of endorsement deals and how that works on both sides.

-Myles Jury

 

Tune in next week at TheTeamFury.com as Dr. Brad Archer and Myles Jury enter another “Team Fury Blog” every Monday focused on self improvement through experience and education.

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You can learn more Myles Jury at TheTeamFury.com and his Jury Jiu Jitsu system at JuryJJ.com.

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