Sure, it may seem like a fighter’s market at the moment with EliteXC, DREAM, World Victory Road, Strikeforce, Golden Boy and M1 (haha, just kidding) gearing up. But the truth of the matter is there’s still no better place than the UFC if you want to make money. Okay, let me add a little caveat onto that: There’s no better place than the UFC to make money IF YOU SPEAK ENGLISH. And you aren’t a freakshow. Okay, maybe there’s a few exceptions, but for the most part, it’s true.
While a fighter may sign with a promotion for more money than they’d get per fight in the UFC, odds are they’ll probably fight only half as much as they would in the UFC if they’re lucky. That’s basically what happened to Matt Lindland with Bodog:
Lindland last competed in April of 2007 against Fedor Emelianenko in BodogFight: Clash of Nations in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has spent the last ten months expecting two more bouts and two more paydays. Neither came to fruition.
“I lived up to my end of the bargain,” said the Greco-Roman wrestling Olympic silver-medalist. “I haven’t fought since April, anticipating two more fights with Bodog.
“I was exclusive with them for that period of time. That’s why I hadn’t done any negotiations outside of that contract. I was upholding my end of the bargain and dealing with them with integrity and honesty. I was being forthright, but they weren’t doing such. It was very difficult.”
Explaining his contract situation with Bodog Fight, Lindland said, “My contract was with Sixth Row Productions. Bodog and Sixth Row intermingled funds. I mean, I could go after Bodog Fight, but they have no assets. They set up these shell companies and they’re not paying their fighters. They don’t honor their contracts. It was very disappointing.”
Fighters like Matt Lindland have always been banging the drum for more independence, but I say independence has never worked out well for anyone. Lindland just wasted a good chunk of the past year and a half learning that. And while I’m sure Fedor has scammed a good chunk of money out of M1, I doubt that plus his pay from Yarrenoka even comes close to the cash he’d be rolling in if he’d just signed a goddamn contract with the UFC back when they first took over for PRIDE.
The only guy who seems to be doing well for himself lately with independence is Frank Shamrock. He only fights when he wants to fight and only fights who he feels like fighting. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Frank got fucked over a few times and spent a long time figuring out how the hell to make his situation work for him. And even then it was only his very specific history, name, and popularity that allowed him to pull it off.
Overall, I hate to say it, if you’re fighting for the money, you should be fighting for the UFC. Of course if you’re more interested in sitting out most of the year, getting booked last second for bizarre matchups in Japan, and getting screwed when companies go under, give that ‘independent’ thing a try. It rocks.