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Stun Gun speaks up for Korean fighters

Dong Hyun Kim continues to stump for Asian fighters everywhere. You may remember a few weeks ago he stirred the pot by calling the UFC ‘stingy and unfair’ in its dealings with foreign fighters. Keep in mind those are words chosen by the person who translated Dong’s words from Korean to English. I’m sure he really said something more political like ‘cheap-ass dickfaces.’

Now he’s back at it again, going into a bit more detail on the realities of being a Korean fighter trying to get by in the UFC. Key passages:

For Asian fighters we basically only have 4 to 5 days to adjust to a different culture and jetlag before we fight. On top of this disadvantage is that our financial situation and how much our fight money is taxed are completely different from American fighters.

Of course the rules regarding sponsorship are the same with all fighters. But I cannot accept the fact that on top of those financial differences, sponsors have to pay the UFC fifty thousand dollars just to have the opportunity to sponsor a fighter.

Also because the Korean market is different from the American market, I need to pay a lot of financial advisers to deal with those intricate business issues to make sure everyone gets the right cut of money. In another words, I basically have to give up on local Korean sponsors not only because it’s so expensive but because of all the complicated paperwork.

When I first started fighting in the UFC, if it wasn’t for the support of friends and family I would not have been able to afford to fight in the UFC.

Even if a popular Korean fighter is fighting on PPV, he is going to be paid the lowest sponsorship money by American companies because the fighter is not nearly as marketable in America as he is in Korea. That is why I believe the UFC has to give more leeway for local Asian sponsors to sponsor Asian fighters. That has been my thought from the start.

I am very thankful for the UFC and I am very content with my pay. So to be honest maybe I am not the fighter who should be complaining. But I am thinking about the young Korean fighters and other Asian fighters who will eventually compete in the UFC. I feel responsibility as an Asian UFC veteran to improve, even if it’s just a little, the financial environment for these fighters.

So now we have to wait and see whether the UFC decides to listen to Dong’s complaints and see if there’s anything to them, or if they put him on their ‘Dissidents and Agitators’ shitlist. Stun Gun has gone 1-2 over his past three fights so it’s not like he’s in a particularly powerful position here. But if you ignore the fact that he’s breaking one of the main unspoken rules in the UFC (“Don’t complain about pay to the press”), his requests aren’t that unreasonable:

  • lift the 50k sponsorship fee for foreign companies sponsoring foreign fighters
  • take double-dip taxing into consideration when negotiating a fair pay for foreign fighters
  • the possibility of booking earlier flights for Asians to avoid jetlag issues
  • a little help from UFC Asia HQ on navigating the intricacies of international law

Not unreasonable requests from a guy who, in the end, just wants to see the sport grow in his country and more success for Korean athletes.

  • Reverend Clint says:

    By local business does he mean Hyundai or Dongs house of Kim chi and dog?

    I do think 50k is pretty damn steep for a foreign or no name fighter. Should be dependant on the size of the company, the level of sponsorship and the current level of the fighter ie Fuel undercard vs PPV main card.

    the jet lag argument is dumb since he could ask to be sent ahead of time.

    The fact that he has to hire people to deal with the weird tax issues sucks and seems like the UFC should have some tax prep place on retainer for all fighters so they dont end up with a Wesley Snipes type problem.

  • kvelertak at work says:

    gangnam style!

  • Grappo says:

    he could ask to be sent ahead of time, but he’d have to foot the bill for plane tickets and accommodations for his coaching staff.

    Some elucidation on the situation from Kim’s manager –

    “The UFC DOES pay for airfare and hotel for the fighter + 1. However, for fighters from Korea, we have to come in at least 10 days early (2 weeks is better) in order to get used to the time difference. The UFC tickets flights (and books the hotel) for 4 or 5 days before the fight. So, the fighters from Korea (and other foreign countries) have to pay the difference in fares and the extra days for room and board.

    If you assume that a fighter is going to bring, at least, their coach and a sparring partner (for KTT, they bring me as well), that means the fighter is paying for 2 extra plane tickets (usually between $1200-2000 RT from Seoul). Add in 5 or 6 days of room and board for 4-5 guys and it starts to add up! Then take out US federal and state taxes, then the guys get taxed again in Korea. Subtract paying the fees to the coach and sparring partner… and what’s the fighter left with? Unless they get a bonus (or two), or are making a really good base pay, not much.

    If you think about the fact that KZ (before the Poirier fight) was making $6,000 as base pay, then you’ll realize that for a lot of our fights in the US, we end up losing money. But, the fighters do it hoping to build up to bigger paydays and more sponsor money. “

  • Reverend Clint says:

    literally took me 1 day to get used to the 8 hr time change in england becasue i prepped myself ahead of time. thats not as much as it is in Korea but seems like if he was professional he could spend a couple days getting used to the waking up like 10 hrs earlier.

  • randlemansvertical says:

    has this boring queer even finished a fight in the UFC? he needs to stfu

  • frickshun says:

    That does suck. I would hope Zuffa would help them shelter some of that money from double-taxation.

    Also, Stun Gun suxxorz.

  • All reasonable points, but if a foreign fighter wants to make it in the UFC, they probably have to do what Wanderlei and most other Brazilians did and move to Vegas and start searching for American sponsorships.