Should MMA fighters be paid to promote a fight?
Former UFC fighter and current Bellator light heavyweight, Phil Davis, certainly thinks so.
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Davis said he felt fighters “definitely” deserve some type of compensation.
“Not everyone’s required to do it and that’s where it becomes unfair. Technically I am being paid more than the guy who isn’t headlining, but I agree with you. There should be some sort of compensation for that.”
Davis’ opinions come shortly after the huge Conor McGregor debacle, where the featherweight champion was kicked off of UFC 200 for not promoting his now-cancelled rematch against lightweight Nate Diaz.
McGregor claimed he did not promote his fight because he was not paid to promote and he needed to focus more on training.
“I am just trying to do my job and fight here. I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote. I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting. There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop.
“I’m doing what I need for me now. It is time to be selfish with my training again. It is the only way. I feel the $400 million I have generated for the company in my last three events, all inside 8 months, is enough to get me this slight leeway. I am still ready to go for UFC 200.”
UFC president, Dana White, was completely unsympathetic to Conor’s excuses.
“We try to give as much leeway as we can on things, but you have to show up and promote the fight. Is it too much to ask to try to shoot a commercial for the fight? A lot of these guys came here from different parts of the world. But, you know, these guys all came. They have better things to do, and they’re here. It’s part of the job.”
Davis, however, was not so hard on the Irishman.
“He had some legitimate concerns that he needed to get met. I certainly don’t condone having the fans miss out on a great fight and I’m sure he’s not happy about that either, but if there was a better way for him to get his concerns met and bring those things to the forefront he needs to get done so he can have a good performance, I think he would have done it. But I think moving forward, there’s going to be better communication on both sides to make sure the fans don’t miss out on a fight that they’ve been looking for.”
There is a good reason to pay fighters to promote events. Simply put, they are taking time out of their busy training schedules to fly halfway around the world (literally, in some cases) and help the company make money.
However, MMA fighters already benefit from promoting their matches. Promotional events bring more attention to the card and therefore more attention to the fighters. They also increase revenue for the company, which increases the likelihood that all fighters will have better salaries.
There is also the question of which fighters should get paid to promote their fights. An argument could be made for why the fighters headlining historic cards like UFC 200 should be paid to promote the event, but what about those on less popular cards? What about new fighters in the prelims? Paying everyone seems unreasonable, especially in a sport that is still a fraction of the size of many other popular sports.
When asked why MMA contracts do not explicitly state that fighters must promote events, Phil Davis chalked it up to “lack of leverage.”
In a sport where some athletes make less than garbage collectors, Davis makes a strong point.
It may therefore take quite some time before an MMA fighter is paid to promote his or her match.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]