Anyone that caught the free prelims on Spike before 104 was treated to a pretty good scrap between Antoni Hardonk and Pat Barry. Ending with a brutal Barry KO in the second, the fight earned FOTY honors and KO of the night for Barry – bestowing a total of $180,000 in bonus money on the two combatants, with a cool $120,000 being added to Barry’s show/win (and, let us not forget… ah fuck it, I’ll talk about it below).
Two interesting stories have come out of this: one, that Anthony Johnson flushed his chances down the toilet after failing to get six pounds in there, and two, that Pat Barry was pretty fucking broke going into the event:
Pat Barry: Hey man, I showed up to this fight broke. When we got to Los Angeles on Tuesday, I had ZERO dollars to my LIFE. I’m not even joking around. I had nothing sitting in the bank, nothing under the mattress at home, not even a piggy bank; nothing at all. Two days before we got to LA, I was literally eating white rice and ketchup.
Anyone that’s been at zero (which is right about where I’m at right now) knows of what Pat speaks. I look at it as an optimist – at least I’m not in debt – but shit still sucks. It’s a constant question in your mind. I can’t imagine preparing for a nationally televised brawl while worrying about how I’m going to get dinner and breakfast tomorrow and God I need some fucking deodorant but I’d much rather eat that money and oh shit there’s a hole in my shoe what the fuck am I going to do?
Luke Thomas argues that, at this point in MMA’s development, UFC fighters shouldn’t have this problem:
Part of being a responsible member of the MMA community lies in understanding the application of humanity, be it in stoppages, fight regulation or acknowledging suffering. What I often find so strange among the community are those that seem outraged on slightly late stoppages, but cruelly avoid ever acknowledging the toll the fight world takes on the vast majority of its competitors. There isn’t only a selectively applied bias in that situation, there’s also a selfishness underpinning the entire outlook.
I don’t pretend that this kind of apathy from fans is somehow unique to MMA. There will be Eagles fans pissed if Brian Westbrook doesn’t suit up on Sunday, six days after being knocked out cold on the field and suffering a concussion, despite the recent spate of studies and Congressional hearings into the long term impact football collisions wreak on the brain. We – those of you reading this site and those of us writing it (if you really think you and I are normal, yell out ‘TECHNO VIKING’ at the bar next time Pat Barry fights and see the response you get) – are hardcore fans, deeply interested in the sport, the fighters and their well-being. As such, we are the exceptions to the rule – and that rule is no majority of sports fans is warm and/or fuzzy. Most of them just want blood and aren’t really concerned with the pension structure.
But in order for those of us that actually do give a shit to have an intelligible debate on the issue, every fact must be on the table, and there is a glaring omission in Luke’s piece. While he rails against those ‘callous’ fans that are cognizant of the fact that nobody makes these guys fight for a living, he never once questions just how Pat got broke in the first place. Nobody does. There is an assumption out there that, if Pat hadn’t won the fight or either of the bonuses, he would’ve taken home only his $7,000 base pay. Bullshit. Pure bullshit. See all of that shit on his shorts? His shirt? That banner? He’s not running a charity – I promise you he made more in endorsements than he did in pay before the FOTY and KO bonuses (endorsements, coincidentally enough, that are all the more lucrative and steady now that the UFC has instituted a $100,000 minimum buy from fighter sponsors, a move that Bloody Elbow’s Mike Fagan bashed when it happened. For the record, I haven’t seen a single fighter with empty advertising space since the new policy was initiated – thus, one can only conclude that they are making more now than they were before the policy, as only more wealthy sponsors can buy the ad space. As I predicted.).
Any fighter that fights three times a year, and stays with the UFC (meaning wins more than loses), is looking at an easy $60,000+ a year including endorsements. Yes, that’s before your camp/gym bills and living expenses, but the UFC flies you and your guys out and puts you up in a hotel, then makes best fight, submission and KO bonuses available at every show, and gives you more viewers than you will ever get anywhere else because of the brand (further increasing the possibility of endorsements outside of the cage). I don’t know and can’t speak to why Barry was flat ass broke going into the card, but I can safely say that a) it’s not his employer’s fault and b) the vast, vast majority of MMA fighters from 1993 to 2005 would’ve been broke sooner. Every single MMA fighter has had to go from zero to hero without the benefit of an amateur league, it’s true – but the bottom line is that Tank Abbott, Don Frye and Ken Shamrock would fucking laugh their asses off at Pat Barry’s pay being too low. Today’s lowest paid fighters dwarf some of the biggest names of the sport’s infancy in dollars. We’re not where we want to be yet, but let’s not forget how far we’ve come.
Update: From Dann Stupp courtesy of Yahoo, Pat Barry is a fucking genius and all of you should learn from him:
Barry (5-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) said he’s barely made enough to cover living and training expenses throughout his seven-year career. And as tempting as it would be treat himself to some luxuries, he said he’s already called his cousin and friend Joe, who’s a financial manager, to make plans for the future. He said $25,000 will go into a retirement account, and an additional $75,000 will be put into CDs to accrue interest.
“I looked at my budget of how I lived last year, and I’m going to live the exact same way,” he said.
Must not have been so bad after all.