Roger Huerta. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Ever since Randy Couture mentioned a rather unfair pay scale as one of his reasons behind leaving the UFC, rumblings have been going on concerning the possibility that many fighters are unhappy with the organization, even some of their top stars.
We all know about Tito Oritz. That’s old news. Georges St. Pierre shot down rumors that he was planning on defecting to Affliction, which currently sponsors him, after his current contract (two fights remain) with the UFC runs out. Then there was Roger Huerta who was said to be unhappy. Unlike the others, it actually turned out to be a true story.
Huerta’s disillusionment with the UFC began when he did press tours for his employer in Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, and London and received a $50 per diem for his troubles. It sounds like a a good deal until you factor in time away from training, friends, and family, days often stretch twelve hours or more, and an exchange rate of one UK pound for two American dollars. “Why do you think I don’t do PR for the UFC any more?” he asks.
He argues that many UFC fighters barely make enough to cover their training expenses. He brings up teammate Keith Jardine repeatedly, incensed that a main event fighter is working for ten and ten- $10k to show and 10k to win - while his opponent regularly makes ten times as much. “The truth is, I don’t really care if I fight in the UFC or somewhere else,” Huerta says. “I want to work for a company that is as loyal to me as I am to them.”
Payout’s Robert Joyner points out that if Huerta defeats Kenny Florian next Saturday in Minnesota, in a fight that is being billed as finding the number one contender to B.J. Penn’s lightweight title, he likely won’t receive a title shot or even another fight until he signs a contract extension with the UFC. It’s something that Brandon Vera, Andrei Arlovski, Ortiz, and others have experienced in recent years.
Huerta’s points concerning the UFC’s payscale are pretty accurate. There’s no reason that Keith Jardine should be making $10,000 to fight Wanderlei Silva, who made $150,000 base salary in the co-main event of UFC 84 in May. Granted, Silva is a much, much bigger name than Jardine, but Jardine had been removed from “The Ultimate Fighter” for close to three years. On top of that, he owns victories over Chuck Liddell and the UFC’s current light heavyweight champ, Forrest Griffin. Sounds like he’s long overdue for a raise.
However despite everyone continually asking why the UFC can’t pay their fighters more, there hasn’t been another organization that has showed them up. Tim Sylvia’s $800,000 base salary for losing to Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction’s debut show earlier this month was the first of it’s kind, but guys like Mark Hominick and Savant Young, who faced each other on the event’s televised PPV main card, only made $10,000 and $7,000 respectively. Hardly enough.
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